Mid-2016 when I was considering buying a BMW 225xe, I had difficulties finding answers to specific questions I had about this new car and particularly about its hybrid technology and performance. I eventually managed to get key answers and I did buy the car. To help others facing similar issues as I did, I thought that it might be useful if I published a few things on a blog to help prospective buyers in their purchasing decision as well as owners in their day-to-day use of the vehicle, myself included! Whilst I initially directed my efforts towards the French-speaking community, for which information was really scarce, I have recently come across people interested in BMW hybrids that are still having difficulties finding relevant information in English. Could this blog help them too? If you can read English and not French, now is the time to let me know whether I should spend some effort adding English content to this Blog!
[Résumé français – French summary: J’ai récemment rencontré des européens de différents pays qui seraient intéressés par des informations sur les hybrides de BMW et notamment la 225xe; ayant des difficultés à lire le français, ils souhaiteraient qu’une partie au moins du contenu du site soit disponible en anglais. Je pose donc la question ouvertement; mais comme les lecteurs anglophones ne visitent pas ce site écrit exclusivement en français jusqu’ici, il faudra attendre un moment pour voir s’il existe un lectorat pour cette proposition… Rassurez-vous, il n’est pas question de passer à l’anglais au détriment du français! Il s’agit tout simplement d’augmenter le contenu en incluant par exemple des résumés en anglais. Dans ce court article, je reprends les raisons de ma démarche initiale et l’intérêt d’avoir un Blog de propriétaire plutôt qu’un site professionnel plus dépersonnalisé. Ce sont des arguments que vous aurez déjà lus dans les différents articles. N’hésitez pas à commenter, en français ou en anglais, cette initiative.
What’s this Blog about?
Welcome to « Ma BMW 225xe »! This is a Blog dedicated to BMW’s PHEV [Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle] Active Tourer, the 225xe (obviously). It is written by a private owner of a 225xe, without any affiliation to BMW other than being a customer that is enthusiastic about his car. About one year ago already, when I got interested in the car, I felt that I wasn’t getting the information I needed to make up my mind about the purchasing decision. I wasn’t getting it in the public arena; I wasn’t getting it from BMW either, at least not easily. After buying the car, I thought that I should share my experience and the little I know and understand about the 225xe in order to help potential buyers and current users.
The idea of writing this Blog came after discovering Brice’s blog on the BMW i3. I got in touch with him for some tips and I used the same general appearance (to maintain some unity as I was hoping that other would follow with other BMW hybrids or all-electric, the i8 being an obvious candidate at the time). I thought I’d write a few topical articles and leave it at that, but as of today I have already published more than 30 articles and I have quite a few under preparation. I continue writing because even today, this Blog’s readers are still telling me the same thing: they are finding practical information here which is helping them decide to buy the car or not, and they are not finding it elsewhere.
Why is it (still) difficult to find information?
For one thing, the technology is recent and the PHEV market is just picking up. Sales volumes are still relatively low, even though they are growing fast. So it’s no wonder that the whole industry is spending comparatively less time and effort than on mainstream sales. But there is another factor, I believe. The fact that prospective hybrid buyers tend to ask different questions about their future car, that they are generally driven by different values and therefore that they need and expect different answers than the automotive industry has prepared. The initial batch of customers is probably more technically-inclined, or more environmentally-aware, let’s say more cautious and considerate about purchasing a vehicle than most people generally are with « regular » cars. And in that process, they are asking a range of questions that are akin to those asked by any enthusiast when they come across something innovative: the questions asked by potential buyers of the original GTI, Quattro or M3 were more focused, technical and specific than those asked about the mainstream vehicles of the various manufacturers (if you don’t understand the analogy, don’t worry, it’s probably called « generation gap »!). Anyway, that’s my theory.
In the case of BMW, customers may not be coming to the local dealer because it is BMW, but because they have hybrids and sometimes in spite of the fact that they are BMW’s. Therefore, they will decide on factors that are not usually the focus of luxury car brochures and sales talks. For instance, some of these new customers could be measuring performance in km/L: what proportion of current BMW customers do that? I am not sure that BMW has recognised this new (potential) subset of their customer base, especially when it comes to the 225xe which is so distinct from the rest of the BMW fleet.
The combination of new technology, new buying patterns, new customers, new decision criteria could explain why questions remain unanswered in official communications so far, and even in professional reviews. Then, there is yet another element. A blog written by a car driver, owning the car he writes about, not affiliated to any particular brand, brings a new perspective to the discussion: it tends to be more practical and candid. And there is the fact that this is my car, one that I selected and chose to drive. One that I own because I like it and it fits my criteria. To an extent, it is the « perfect » fit: the best answer to what I was looking for at the time I needed to make the purchase decision. I address issues that I come across as a regular user, I explore areas of personal interest, I try to understand the car to use it more effectively. Some journalists have ventured in that direction. For instance, there was an extended test that Will Dron was writing about in the Sunday Times, but his last update was posted in October 2016.
Options to include English content
Should I find a substantial call for English content in the comments below, I’d have several options to provide that. I could simply translate the blog word-for-word, or at least « article-for-article ». It is an option, but pretty time-consuming and I’ve got a feeling that I could soon be running the Blog in English, and then considering whether I should keep any French content! That’s clearly not then intent as I do want to continue serving French readers. One neat way of providing useful information in English would be to include summaries in English for each article: just the highlights, getting rid of contextual information and any literary development. That would have the additional advantage of taking French readers straight to the point, should they too want to spend less time going through a complete article: even for those who have difficulties in English, it might be quicker to go through the short English version than the full French text!
Of course, if the English readers coming across this article manage to read French, do let me know as well: no need to take time away from writing material if most of you can already read it in French and all you needed was one link to make you aware of the existence of this Blog. Maybe there are yet other ways to get the information to the English-reading community. Let me know, I am open to suggestions.
By the way…
A few words about the Blog and its author. As I have explained in initial articles in French, I have deliberately concentrated on text to focus the time I dedicate to this personal initiative on facts, tips, figures and questions. Images and other illustrations would be more appealing and I would love to include some regularly, but at this stage they would also consume part of my time without adding much value. If you want images, there are many excellent ones out there: have a look at BMW’s sites and professional 225xe reviews.
As for the author, I stress that this is a personal initiative, unpaid, that I have no current or prior affiliation with BMW other than being a customer. I share my views and experience about the 225xe I own in a candid manner. I have a technical background, but I am not a car professional in any way. I have had a strong interest in car mechanics at the time of the GTI and its 16V Oettinger version and other special cars of that era. Having worked in the energy sector for a couple of decades, my current interests have evolved and I spend time coming up with ways to reduce (energy) consumption without totally rejecting current models. I wish my car weighed a ton less and could drive double the distance in electric mode, but I am also happy making good use of my 225xe today.
I write about topics I come across as a curious and enthusiastic user, with a focus on energy consumption. Articles to-date have covered general descriptions of the car, fuel consumption, charging options, the WallBox Plus, the volume of the fuel tank… I am open about any link to BMW as I value my independence of speech and I recently wrote about participating in BMW events. It also lightens the Blog and shows another aspect of being a BMW owner. I am clearly positive about the car, as an owner who could also decide to sell it and pick another one (not the case!) without much constraint. This positive « let’s make it work for me » attitude has raised some suspicion among a few readers who suspect I carry a BMW agenda. I don’t.
So here is the offer: I am prepared to include English content regarding the 225xe and related topics on this Blog. If you’re looking for that and need it, please write a comment and tell me what you’d be looking for and in what format you’d prefer to find it (brief summary, articles…). I’ll leave this open for comments for a while as I expect that it will take time for English readers to find their way to this article, surrounded by French material! And of course, if you know of a useful source of information regarding BMW hybrids and the 225xe, please do let me know!