Like Tesla, BMW Starts a Dealer Fight of Its Own

Tesla Model S

Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) may have found a potentially powerful ally in its fight against the traditional dealership model, which has been threaded through legislation in a number of states to prevent companies from selling their vehicles directly to the public.

Germany’s own BMW is also pushing for web-based sales of its upcoming electric i3 model in its home country, in a case incredibly reminiscent of Tesla’s fight with dealer networks domestically. However, the backlash that BMW is getting is coming from its own dealerships, rather than dealers of other vehicles.

“We can well imagine that Internet sales could be expanded to all models,” Roland Krueger, who is in charge of sales for the company, told Wirtschaftswoche. This alone is enough to worry BMW dealerships, although one unnamed dealer reported that the company had pledged, at least temporarily, not to use the sales force in Germany, Reuters said.

Krueger added that BMW’s Mobile Sales Force would also visit their clients at home. ”The expectations and needs of our clients are changing and we want to meet those requirements,” Krueger said. He also notably tried to dissipate dealers’ concerns by telling Wirtschaftswoche that that dealerships would remain the ”backbone” of BMW sales.

However, BMW’s intention is to make web sales go a little farther, rather than trying to enhance its revenue streams and sales channels. The company’s step gives Tesla a hint of validation in its own fight stateside, as it shows that other companies — and one as established as BMW — might be looking beyond the traditional dealer model as well.

BMW i3

While the German company won’t likely begin web sales in the States for some time (if at all, ultimately), BMW could potentially offer Tesla a powerful asset in its corner, in the event that the dealership swells into an industry-wide battle. Tesla’s argument is that its Model S sedan does not fit within the traditional dealer structure, a position that BMW’s i3 may very well find itself in — it’s difficult for a salesperson to talk up one car, without being to the detriment of its differently-powered siblings.