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BMW i3 unveiling NYCA week ago my first blog in my new “Tech Metals Insider” series appeared on KITCO News, and I am being told that it did quite well. Phew. As you can read there I was invited to witness BMW’s launch of their new “i3” “Megacity” car in New York City. My KITCO blog is geared at the use of specialty metals in high tech applications, but of course an event like this has many more facets, one of which I would like to highlight in this blog. Don’t worry, not a blog on cars yet again, more a blog on how Germans approach markets more often than they should.

BMW, like many German companies, is strongly driven by engineers. And these two words, “German” and “engineers” in one sentence signify what was to be observed on the sidelines of the event. Here are a few examples:

  • Designed to be a “Megacity” car, BMW’s executives touted the i3 repeatedly as the “ideal mode of transportation” in large cities. It is not. Public transportation is. New York also rolled out a bicycle program recently that appears to be very well accepted. It helps people move around quickly, and it decongests the roads.
  • When Megacity people travel they rent a car, or use a car sharing service. Why pay parking fees for a car you don’t need?
  • So the i3 really is a commuter car, not a city car. Totally different profile.
  • When asked about a missing spare tire BMW’s executives explained that adding a spare tire would have added “dead weight” and so they decided to do without. “But we have addressed the issue”, was added at the end, and in a small voice. Inevitably, the reporter’s follow-up was: “oh ok, so the car has run-flat tires?” – “No, but we have addressed the issue” – uncomfortable silence. Eventually, we learned that “we addressed the issue” means “you can drive home and call roadside assistance”. No further details were given. This may work when you live downtown Manhattan but it sure doesn’t when you’re commuting (see above) and are left immobile in a dark side street (which happened to me in my electric car, albeit for different reasons). No roadside assistance in almost two hours until I abandoned my car.
  • Part of this thinking is a “study” that proves most of their customers only drive about 40 miles per day. That study, of course, was conducted sampling the customers of BMW’s “ActiveE” program, a purpose built electric car geared solely at commuters, most of which own a second car for all the other things they’re doing. How empiric is that sample, I wonder?

The list could go on for a while but the point is made, and it is this: do you sell what you make or do you make what you sell? Engineers want to sell what they make. Marketers want to make what they sell. I am convinced BMW’s sustainability model is the way to go, it is bold, it is admirable, and it doesn’t deserve to fail. The i3 will have a tough time in the U.S. market, though, especially when Tesla follows up on their threat to offer a 200 mile car at $ 35,000 next year. Knowing who you want to sell to is incredibly important, and right now BMW are not on that path.

 

UPDATE: One of my readers points out that the Tesla “bluestar” won’t be out until 2017, and that the $35k price point is AFTER the $7,500 tax rebate. So the pre-discount price would be $42k. Sorry about that, I misread the press release.

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Bodo 2013Welcome back to “The Eniqma”. As you will recall I took a short timeout to rethink my activities. The wait is over, I am back! A slight makeover of this blog site is only half of it. I am very honored to contribute a new weekly commentary to KITCO News from now on: “Tech Metals Insider”. The welcome page of The Eniqma already explains the details so I won’t repeat them here. Also, KITCO published an introduction to the new series which you can read here.

In future, my blog will contain stuff I think to be relevant but which didn’t make it into my articles. I’ll probably sprinkle in a few other things as well, let’s see how it goes. I hope you will enjoy the new Eniqma. Always happy to hear from you so tell me if you do, and… oh well…. if you don’t you can say that, too.

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From time to time I look back at my blogs. Topics, categories, search strings and statistics provide an image of what I like to write about, what readers want to read about, and the part where both overlap. If you recall, after a brief excursion into the world of “precious metals only” I returned to “Marketing and The Meaning of Life” quickly after realizing that neither I nor my readers enjoyed what I wrote. Ever since my blogs have been hovering around several hundred readers each, plus minus, and I want to thank every one of you for lending me your time and for sending the occasional comment.

Still, life goes on, things progress and I may have changed a little over time. My observations are:

  • While blogging about “current affairs” is incredibly satisfying it is also true that these blogs never seem to change anything. So what’s the point?
  • With the appearance of the electric BMW in my life last year (and its disappearance earlier this year) I discovered how fascinating the world of alternative energy really is. I have since become more involved with the technology and logistics behind these vehicles, learned much about other alternative technologies such as hydrogen, and of course the materials required to enable them. So my blog has turned into a car blog a bit more than anything else last year.
  • Lastly, I find myself not reading as many blogs anymore as I used to. No disrespect to my fellow bloggers, some of which are good friends of mine, but it seems like I am not the only person experiencing “blogging fatigue” after everything of relevance has already been said before by someone else.

Instead, I find myself drawn more towards topical news, information and industry insider commentaries on discoveries, technologies and trends. Which lead me to combine the two: with my unique exposure to the precious metals and specialty metals / rare earths industries combined with my passion for everything that moves fast I am confident to be in the right spot to pick up topics at the intersection of both areas, report and interpret on developments, and hopefully manage to insert the occasional interview with interesting people from participating industries. And I promise my sentences will be shorter.

Bodo 2013So here is the plan: my blog will go passive for a little bit and relaunch in September this year with a new focus, and a new design. Anyone sharing my passion or wanting to contribute is invited to do so. I hope you will like the new “Eniqma”. Of course my other website pages will remain in place. Where else in the world do you find information on Albert Schweitzer, Taekwondo and Deaf Cats on the same website? I am conscious of my responsibilities. 😉  Also, some of my older blogs are still getting hits on a regular basis so I’ll leave the archive in place.

Again, thanks for tuning in, and I hope you’ll be giving the new “Eniqma” a shot.

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About eight weeks ago I gave my blog a makeover. As you know I deal with metals a lot, and the idea of turning lead into gold has been an obsession of mankind for millenia. At the time I had discovered some amazing images created by an artist named “Gard”. He kindly allowed me to use one of his pictures titled “The Alchemist’s Dream – The Transformation of Lead to Gold” as a title bar of The Eniqma blog.

Check out all of his pictures at http://www.gardgallery.com – if you, like I, are into fantasy stories and imaginary worlds I am sure you will like them too. Most of his images are for sale as prints through the website, by the way, and they really aren’t expensive so check out GARD’s store as well.

Dear GARD, whoever you are, many thanks for letting me use this great image. I hope you will be very successful with your work.

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