BMW executive wears pants to discuss ergonomically challenging i8 sports car

Trudy Hardy, BMW's marketing vice president, admits getting out of the low-slung i8 hybrid sports car "takes some grace and finesse." I describe it as an ergonomic nightmare that poses a challenge to the dignity of any woman who wears a skirt.


BMW isn't the biggest automaker in the world, but this year, the company debuted its iBrand -- a plug-in hybrid sports car and a more practical sedan that is available in purely electric form.

It's hard to believe the two cars came from the same engineering department.

And the German automaker seems to have conceded the all-electric luxury market to the Tesla Model S, a big four-door hatchback with a range of 200 miles or more.

The BMW i8 wows you with its performance and super-car sounds, but it's so difficult to get out of you have to conclude it was designed by men exclusively for men.

Trudy Hardy on the iBrand

This afternoon, BMW sent a woman, Marketing Vice President Trudy Hardy, to discuss the company's iBrand at the monthly meeting of the International Motor Press Association.

Hardy wore pants.

She recalled the time on a cross-country trip when she had to change clothes in the back seat of a Mini, another BMW brand.

That experience has helped her deal with the challenging ergonomics of the i8, she said.

At the moment, she said, BMW has no plans to add more models to the iBrand, but is keeping its eye on Tesla as a competitor.

"I thank them every day because they bring awareness to electric vehicles," she said of Tesla.

Tesla's 3 Series fighter

The California-based company says that in 2017, it will introduce a smaller all-electric car, called the Model E, with a range of 200 miles and a starting price of $35,000.

One publication, Auto Express, calls the Model E a BMW 3 Series fighter.

BMW i3 and i8

The BMW i3 has seating for four, an MSRP of $41,350 and an EPA-estimated range of 81 miles.

A second version comes with a security blanket or what the automaker calls a "Range Extender" -- a 2-cylinder gasoline engine with a 2-gallon tank that recharges the battery -- increasing the car's range to 150 miles.

Both versions take 3.5 hours to charge fully. 

The all-wheel-drive BMW i8 has an MSRP of $137,500.

BMW is selling more than 1,000 of its more practical, all-electric i3 sedans each month, Marketing Vice President Trudy Hardy told a monthly gathering of automobile writers in Manhattan today. 

I got a chance to drive the i8 in September. To get into the low-slung car with scissor doors, you plant your tush in the driver's seat, then swing your legs over the high sill. In trying to get out, I couldn't find an assist handle to grab onto and had to ask another writer for a hand. The company has sold about 300 i8s, Hardy said.

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