SANTA CLARA, California — It just had to happen, and only in California. A pair of BMW dealerships — one in Silicon Valley and the other in the center of Orange County — have opened stand-alone electric car dealerships specializing in sales and service of "i" cars. The exclusive new facilities will focus solely on the BMW i3 city EV and the exotic BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports car.
Stevens Creek BMW's iCenter, which opened in May, is located on the dealership's campus in the heart of Silicon Valley where, a recent study found, almost 10 percent of all new cars have plugs. That's more than 10 times the national average and about twice the market penetration of plug-in cars in the Los Angeles-Orange County region.
Crevier BMW's six-month-old iCenter, located on its campus in a Santa Ana auto mall, is freeway close to the largely upscale Southern California county's tony beach communities.
Crevier is one of the biggest regular BMW retailers in the nation and along with Stevens Creek is also one of the top "i" dealerships.
Researchers at UC Davis reported in a recent study that even in California, a hotspot for plug-in vehicle sales, customers looking for EVs and plug-in hybrids often are disappointed by the lack of information and enthusiasm at dealerships they visit.
That shouldn't be the case at Stevens Creek or Crevier.
Both facilities have standalone showrooms and outdoor display areas crammed with i3s and i8s (although a lot more of the $43,000 i3s are on hand than the $137,000 i8s) and also have specialized electric vehicle sales advisors.
Stevens Creek, however, is the first (and so far only) BMW shop to set up a dedicated service center for its i-car customers. At Crevier, you have to take your i3 or i8 through the regular service department check-in with all the gas-burners.
Edmunds says: We applaud all efforts to improve the car shopping experience, and these sound like especially worthwhile endeavors.