Rubbish BMW online car configurator eager to drive away customers

Thursday 2 August 2012 @ 11:06 am

If there’s one thing that gets on my goat, it’s a rubbish website from a large, well funded organisation that should know better. Step forward BMW who seem to think the way best way to attract customers is by offering a car configurator tool that does its level best to ensure you never buy a BMW.

The warning bells sound early on when you click the car configurator link and the tiresome Java logo appears to inform you that your browser will now slow to a crawl. You’re then presented with a squashed photo album of BMW models way down at the bottom of the screen. Hovering over any one in particular shows a popup of the base model and price although why BMW would think that is useful is anyone’s guess. Chances are that if you want to buy the cheapest model of a brand new BMW, you’re looking at the wrong marque.

Once you’ve chosen your model, the website prompts you to choose a paint job. Only problem is that there are no paint job options to choose from, BMW obviously thinks it best to leave it to your imagine as to what Midnight Taupe Eggshell will look like spattered all over your new pride and joy.

The whole experience is just so counterintuitive and clunky. You can’t see a 360° real-time view of the car by simply dragging the mouse but must instead click on arrow links, each accompanied by a pause as the Java tortoise in the background coughs and wheezes to the next image. That is, when you can actually get to see the car you’re building, BMW has thought it best to only show you your configured model at select opportunities instead of being there constantly on the screen updating in real time the way it should be done.

And then there’s the unhelpful dialogue that prompts you to do stuff that’s not even relevant. For example, click on the Interior package and it’ll ask you to choose upholstery. Click on the Packages link and it’s still banging on about choosing upholstery only this time the bottom strip is accompanied by the variously overpriced driver packages you can add to the build.

Screen estate is wasted laboriously and the whole thing barely squeezes onto a 768 height screen which is a native resolution for 720p present on most laptops made in the last 5 years. Navigation is all over the pace with no consistency in the user experience whilst the information is displayed haphazardly seemingly inviting the user to guess what happens next.

When you do finally make it to the end, and only those with the patience of a Saint will bother, you click on Your BMW and are presented with … nothing. Actually, that’s not strictly true, if you were previously looking at the Interior section, clicking on Your BMW simply shows you the same screen. Nice one BMW, I’m obviously mad thinking that clicking on a link entitled Your BMW would actually show me my meticulously built BMW.

Other rival marques (e.g. Audi, Alfa Romeo) have wonderful online car configurators that actually work and provide a fun and informative way to spec a new car. BMW’s offering is just too buggy, complicated, slow and messy. You would expect that the company behind the Ultimate Driving Machine would put a lot more care and due consideration into providing the Ultimate Car Configurator to build the Ultimate Driving Machine.