US: BMW needs Silicon Valley gurus to adopt the i8 image

The German premium automaker managed to hit the bulls eye when one of the first US customers of the $136,000 i8 plug-in hybrid top of the range sports car was a former Apple executive.

Just as Tesla managed to achieve glamour and fame in the technical world of California’s Silicon Valley, word of mouth could be worth more than any commercial here. The executive – Tony Fadell – worked with Steve Jobs to create the iPod and was after that a co-founder of the Nest Labs Inc – which Google acquired for $3.2 billion.

BMW is battling the local electric carmaker for a share of the wealthy Bay Area customer base, after the Model S was the best-selling car in 2013 in many towns in the region.

“It becomes almost your second business card to drive a Model S because it demonstrates you’re at the leading edge of technology sophistication,” said Thilo Koslowski, an auto-industry analyst for Gartner Inc. “Silicon Valley is just the forerunner for a lot of this stuff because eventually it will penetrate everywhere.”

On the other hand, BMW is already the best-selling luxury brand in California, according to Edmunds. In order to keep its top position in the future, the automaker even began an electric-car share program in San Francisco in 2012. The models used are ActiveE cars, actually electrified versions of the 1 series, but they will soon be exchanged for the new i3 electric city car.

VIa Bloomberg