LOS ANGELES — BMW has a plan to help its dealers cover the big expense of tooling up to sell electric vehicles and equipping showrooms and service departments with vehicle chargers.
While some automakers have required dealers to shoulder those new costs, BMW will help finance the investment from an existing retailer-funded program that pays for dealer-based initiatives, technology and training. The brand’s 349 U.S. dealers already pay a flat fee into the Cost Per Vehicle fund on every vehicle they order from the factory.
“There isn’t really any out-of-pocket [cost]; that’s money that’s already in the fund,” BMW North America sales boss Shaun Bugbee told Automotive News on the sidelines of a media event here on Tuesday. “The fund is to benefit all dealers. All dealers will be participating in electric mobility.”
It is no small matter.
The addition of high-speed charging stations and upgrades to electricity infrastructure can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per store. Porsche’s 192 U.S. dealers, for instance, are investing a combined $77 million to build their own network of fast chargers to support that automaker’s EVs.
The investment in dealer readiness is a key initiative as BMW embraces electric vehicles. Starting in early 2022, the German luxury brand will launch an EV offensive with the iX midsize crossover and the i4 sedan.
About a quarter of BMW sales in the U.S. will be EVs by 2026, said BMW North America’s outgoing CEO Bernhard Kuhnt.
Globally, BMW expects battery-electric vehicles to account for about half of all global sales by the decade’s end. Full-electric versions of the BMW 5 Series sedan and the X1 baby crossover will follow, as will electric versions of the flagship 7 Series sedan.
BMW National Dealer Forum Chairman David Sloane referred to the financial arrangement, which was proposed by the dealers, as a win-win for retailers and the factory.
“Dealers are getting a chunk of change to help offset the cost of EV preparedness,” said Sloane, president of Sloane Automotive Group in suburban Philadelphia.