The BMW i3 now available on…AMAZON!

You can buy anything on Amazon – books, clothes, household products, an electric car…Wait. What? An electric car? Yes, and not just any electric car – the revolutionary and third most popular EV (after the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S), the BMW i3, has been made available on Amazon, the multinational online retailer, since 2 April; but only on the Japan site.

The announcement was made on April Fools’ Day, so the news was a bit suspect, but it has since been confirmed by the German automaker and the ‘product’ is still listed on the website. You can say anything about BMW, but you can’t say that it doesn’t keep up with the times.
The luxury automaker’s electric vehicle has been gaining rave reviews and enjoying much popularity in the European and US markets, having sold almost 21,000 units since it was launched in 2013; and now BMW Japan wants in on the success. It has 46 dealerships in Japan in which the i3 is available, and the crossover into the e-commerce channel is intended for a more comprehensive market coverage; buyers who are too busy, who live far away or who just think that its too much hassle to drop by one of these dealerships will now have an alternative way to purchase the car.
“This will widen the sales channel and improve convenience for customers,” a company spokesperson said.
Amazon has 270 million active customer accounts worldwide, but BMW has not revealed whether it will make the i3 available online in other markets. We’re guessing that if this method generates more i3 sales in Japan, the automaker would not object to replicating it for other markets; after all, setting up a virtual shop costs next to nothing compared to physical ones.

Actually, a “virtual shop” is an overstatement. The i3 has an Amazon page, featuring a gallery of hi-res pictures, detailed description and specifications, and also options – such as the range extender that increases the i3’s range on a single charge from 229km to 300km, and the option for outright purchase or a five-year lease. The company doesn’t even need to print brochures – how environmentally friendly and practical…though no one knows yet whether this sales tactic is even effective.

The purchasing process is not as easy as, say, buying a book. After adding the car into the shopping cart, buyers will still need to wait for a call from BMW and then submit certain documents and proof that they have a parking space and access to charging facility. So, the experience of buying a BMW i3 online will not be the extremely satisfying one-click process that inveterate online shoppers thoroughly enjoy.

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