When it comes to the BMW i3, the answer is electric. Sure, you can get a gas-engine range extender for the vehicle itself, but if you're interested in buying or test driving the EV, electronic assistance will be involved.
The International Business Times reports that BMW will use something called the iGenius to respond to people's questions about the i3 that are submitted via text message. Apparently, the algorithms can understand the question based on words and context and then send back relevant information to the curious texter. London Brand Management (LBM) came up with the automatic reply system, and there is no word on if the i8 will also get iGenius'ed.
All this doesn't mean the i3 will be sold online, and the LBM AI isn't trying to replace the dealer. Instead, the point is to be there when the dealer can't. LBM founder Dmitry Aksenov told IBT that, "Our system allows people to get information at the moment of interest, whether that's watching TV or reading a paper. A salesman isn't available 24/7, 365 days a year."
On top the iGenius service, BMW just announced, via Twitter, of course, that interested parties can sign up for a test drive now. Online, of course.