Published on May 18th, 2014 | by Zachary Shahan


BMW Does It! BMW i8 Commercial Shows What An Electric Car Commercial Should Be

May 18th, 2014 by  

As many of you know, I’m not a fan of how electric cars have historically been advertised. My favorites to date are probably a 2013 Chevy Spark EV commercial, Nissan & Renault’s “Gas Powered Everything” commercial, and BMW’s Olympics commercials for the BMW i3 and i8. But most commercials for electric vehicles are boring, uninteresting, and downright crappy. BMW is now showing that its Olympics commercials weren’t a blip. Its new BMW i8 commercial absolutely rocks it. This is what electric car commercials need to be.

Why do I love this commercial so much? It makes the i8 look hot, sexy, totally awesome, badass but “good,” epic, cool… desirable!

Furthermore, it’s human. When I give speeches about how to become a popular, effective blogger, I focus a lot on the importance of being personal and making a human connection with your audience. BMW just made the i8 human, and a totally awesome human that resembles James Bond, Indiana Jones, or Ethan Hunt.

All of this is not always what sells, but this is often what sells, or at least what plants that first (important) desire in the heart of the consumer. And once you’ve got one potential buyer emotionally hooked, she or he can then find out about the excellent practical benefits of the car… and pass on that info on to the more practically minded partner of theirs that might not have been pulled in by the commercial.

Will it work for everyone? No. But it will work for many (especially when it’s used for an affordable electric car not a $136,000 sports car).

And as much as many of us like to think that we aren’t swayed by advertising and overt efforts to manipulate our emotions and desires, we are often subtly influenced by such things.

I’ll admit it that this single, 1-minute ad from BMW makes me more interested in buying a BMW. This commercial strongly reinforces my opinion that BMW is serious about electric cars. This commercial tells me that BMW gets it. The commercial tells me that BMW wants to create and sell awesome electric cars. Maybe it was just the advertising team that got it, but I am inclined to believe it goes deeper, especially with other knowledge about the company.

Does BMW get it as much as Tesla? No, of course not. But if I were in the market for an electric car cheaper than the Model S but more expensive and decked out than the Nissan LEAF, there’s only one option that comes to mind.

It will be interesting to see if BMW retains its leadership in both the production as well as the advertising of electric cars.

Check out many more electric car commercials here: 28 Electrified Vehicles, 47 Electrified Vehicle Videos (Commercials, Reviews, Etc.)

h/t Gas2

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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the typed word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession, Solar Love, and Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in.

  • DdavidD

    The fake engine noise spoils it!

  • Rick Kargaard

    I hate to be a black cloud, but the “lust” for beauty, power and prestige is what put us in our current high carbon and high priced oil situation. Is nobody interested in pure transportation and saving the lust for the back seat

  • Patrick

    It doesn’t sound very electric in the video.

    • it’s partially electric 😛 but that was obviously some fake engine sound.

  • QKodiak

    If only the i3 looked more like the i8 – in other words, didn’t look so UGLY. It’s a good electric car that looks incredibly strange, only has 4 seats, and not enough cargo room. It’s packed with innovation and technology, but I can’t bring myself to even consider owning one. It’s just too weird.

  • Zachary – this is the only car in recent years that has given me the lust. yes, I love Tesla – as much for Elon Musk’s audacious push to make the industry work. As for the attention to detail and performance (ala Steve Jobs).

    I have the i8 as my target purchase in the next 12 months. No, it won’t replace my current E320 station wagon. But as grocery getter and canyon carver? I’m sold.

    Thanks for the great writeup. And you nailed it: The passionate, authentic voice trumps features anyday. I want what he’s having.

    • Mykeljon

      I want the car but I don’t like the commercial. As for the passionate, authentic voice, he’s just an actor paid to play a part. Pay me what he got paid and I could sound passionate about a Lada or a Yugo.

      • @Mykeljon – I’m an admitted sucker for good advertising, yes. And I do voiceover work in my spare time.

        Even an actor has to be convincing. And this… well, it worked. But I would totally love to hear your VO for a Yugo. Hell, I’d pay for that.

        Maybe you’re onto something: A series of retro-style commercials pimping classic craptastic autos and “featuring” their (what we’ve come to know) “awesome” leading-edge technologies.

        Like, say, the Fiero V-6 that was always a quart low (to make room for the rear crossmember. Guaranteed engine failure at 46,000 miles).

        Or the RX-7 that had oil injection every time you pushed the throttle. Another classic case of a quart low every month. (ANd I raced Mazda RX3’s in SCCA many moons ago).

    • Taro

      Mark, it seems you are a BMW fanboy who would buy anything that BMW throws at you.

      This i8 is pure market gimmicks by the lazy BMW. This car has a combustion engine on it, which will keep you maintaining it at BMW prices and dealers employed. Poor acceleration, car is a two seater for God’s sake, doesn’t even compare to the Model S. Looks too exotic to me. Two doors are not practical at all.

      I agree someone saying only people who bought a Z8 would be interested in this as a collection item for over US$130K.

      • Ahhh… the Z8. Funny. That was my OTHER lustmobile back when it was introduced.

        And I’m about 2/3rd fanboy. I’ve had my share of 3-5 and 7 series. All good drivers. But the pieces that break are always insane (remind me to tell you about shearing the main steering pivot bolt on my 740i at 70mph in the middle of the freeway in Portland, Oregon. A 160 car recall… Evidently I missed the alert).

        Remember the Lexus in Minority Report?
        Yup – I want that, too.

        I’m not talking these as my primary transportation. And I’d most likely get a dealer return or something sufficiently devalued that it’s not an economic boat anchor.

        But even the reviewers give it good marks for performance and handling. I’m a tech geek. Whadaya’ expect? A WRX? I can’t stand the engine bump on those. Sounds like a single-pumper Honda 500 with tuberculosis.

    • QKodiak

      Before you get your heart set on the i8, test drive a Tesla Model S P85+. It stole my heart, and it very well could yours. It’s absolutely amazing, and it’s a very practical car; unlike the i8 which is more like a ultra-cool toy. With a Tesla, you can kiss oil goodbye forever!

    • Thanks. Awesome pic! 😀

      If you’ve got the money, adding an i8 to the collection certainly would add some fun! 😀

  • So weird performance glitches as it juggles complex inputs and outputs, uses gas and pumps fake engine sounds through the stereo to compensate for both having a noisy engine and not having a noisy enough engine. Still needs oils changes etc. no luggage room, only dwarves can fit in back seats and only people with good knees and strong legs can get in and out of it.

    The video is just a bit odd in my opinion because it pretends that it’s an electric car from the ground up.

    Better than the I3 but a long way from the Tesla and I say that as a guy with a multi-decade BMW habit.

    • “The video is just a bit odd in my opinion because it pretends that it’s an electric car from the ground up.”

      Definitely agree that it’s a bit odd that the i8 is the car advertised here, but I think the ad itself is excellent.

      Personally, I think the i3 is better. Of course, the i8 has specs that make it better, but it’s impractical, has a tiny amount of electric range, and is massively overpriced. I think the i3 fits well in its price category — between the Model S and the Nissan Leaf. If someone doesn’t have enough for the Model S, the i3 is the best electric option on the market.

  • Sam

    “Born electric” but raised on pure hydrocarbons. Actual electric range when driven “as designed” is less than 10 miles. PLEASE!

    • Yes, I did have a bit of a snide chuckle when I heard him say “born electric” in this ad. 😀

      But, ignoring the limitations of the featured car, the ad is awesome.

  • JamesWimberley

    Hybrids don’t do anything to support the installation of recharging points, which only pure evs need. Germany, without a significant pure ev carmaker, naturally lags on this.

    • Well, there’s now the BMW i3, VW e-Up!, VW e-Golf, and smart electric drive. But most of these have just hit the market.

    • No way

      They had a record month in April in Germany with over 1000 EVs sold for the first time. And 83,5% of those were pure electric.
      So there is hope for recharging points coming as a result of the demand.

  • No way

    It’s a start… but if only it had at least 2 timer or 3 times the battery capacity so it could do a decent trip on electricity only.

    • eject

      or even decent speed. 0-30mph my Diesel will beat this car in pure electric, that is just not good enough.

      • QKodiak

        Are you sure? The BMW i3 EV does 0-37 mph in 3.7 sec. and 0-62 mph in 7.2 sec. That’s pretty quick for a little 4-seat hatchback. Also, it does not lose power with altitude, so those in the mountains will appreciate it. What diesel car can beat the i3 to 30 mph?

        • eject

          I am talking about the i8 when it is in pure electric it does according to BMW 0–60 km/h in 4,5s. In combined mode it does 0-100km/h in 4.4s. I can’t beat the latter but in pure EV my BMW 123D is easily just as fast. (But way less elegant, I somehow love the i8 for its looks and everything, but pure EV on that thing is such a joke, destroys everything. Well, here I am slagging of a car I can’t afford anyway)

    • Yep, wasn’t really commenting on the car, primarily just the ad.

      • No way

        Yes, and the ad is brilliant. It gave me goose bumps. It’s just a bit sad that the perfect ad for an electric car is for a short range PHEV.

      • Jay Donnaway

        I was waiting for the part where they shut down the snarly engine and silently accelerated. Oops, it’s electric feature is just a ploy to get you to Bring More Wampum.

  • Michiel

    I agree, a fantastic video. Only a pity that the car itself is just a gasoline one. :(.

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