Pretty much all cars, even those most devoid of personality, tend to evoke certain feelings, stereotypes, sometimes even downright prejudice. You’ve heard the classics –Porsche is for men going through a midlife crisis, a Prius is a self-righteous environmentalists’ high horse, and a Land Rover is a soccer moms’ signal flare. When it comes to BMW, the verdict is also pretty clear – stereotypical BMW drivers are supposedly obnoxious, self-important douche bags. But rather than one-off experiences and memes, let’s explore what the actual facts and the BMW brand identity have to say about this image.
The Perceived Image
BMW drivers tend to get a bad rap for being in love with themselves. For example, a studyby One Poll reveals that the perceived image of the typical BMW drivers is “Smarmy BMW businessmen, holier-than-thou Prius drivers and reckless Subaru boy-racers”.
While that alone is nothing but a naked stereotype, BMW drivers do tend to display some personality traits which fit the profile.
Less Respect for Regulations and Etiquette
Wall Street Journal reported that BMW drivers do indeed tend to side-step
road regulations, based on two different studies – one from the UK and another
from the U.S.
BMW drivers are “far less
likely to stop for a pedestrian who had just entered a crosswalk,” according to a
study from the University of California. In all fairness, the study found that
“the fancier the cars, the less likely they were to stop.” However, “BMW
drivers were the worst.”
The second study from the UK asked over 2,000 participants to share their experience with road rage and aggressive driving, and to identify “the make and color of the car, and gender of the driver” in their incidents.
Once again, BMW drivers, especially males in their late 30s and 40s in blue models, were the worst behaved.
Far More Confident in Their Knowledge Than Other Drivers
According to a study by YouGovProfiles, 70% of BMW drivers consider themselves more knowledgeable than others, and while this confidence might merely stem from driving a products deluxe as ‘’The Ultimate Driving Machine,” as one of BMW’s slogan proudly states, it does tend to give off a whiff of superiority, especially in such large numbers. For reference, the 2nd place in the “knowledgeable” category is taken by Chrysler drivers at 56%, with all other drivers scoring under 50% for this personality trait.
While those traits alone are not too serious reasons for condemnation, combined with the other characteristics, it does start to conjure up the typical, slick asshole in a movie you’d instantly root against, the kind with glossy hair who speaks loudly on his hands-free about important business deals as if he owns the world,disrespects the waiter, cheats on his wife, and finally somebody punches in the face.
You don’t put chocolate on a mouse trap, you put cheese, because that’s what mice like, and that’s why what a brand decides to use as bait in their advertisements speaks volumes of their target audience’s tastes and buttons, and respectfully, their personality.
This ad for second-hand cars, as creative as it is, certainly doesn’t portray BMW drivers as the biggest gentlemen.
The Other Side to the Story
Nevertheless, no two people are the same, and no stereotype, supported by facts, should be taken as a universal, common denominator.
It’s important to remember that BMW is one of the best cars out there, and naturally, people who can afford it are likely to have high-end jobs, demand more, and consider themselves connoisseurs and winners in life. There’s nothing wrong with that, and there are lots of people who feel the same way without having achieved anything.
Furthermore, after looking at over a million car insurances quotes, a website found that BMW drivers are not the ones involved in the most car accidents. While they were in the first quarter, they were surpassed by a few, including Mercedes, Audi, Lexus, and even Volvo drivers.
And last but not least, let’s not forget the power of prejudice and expectations. They can not only be a 180-degree change our perception, but even get people to act unlike themselves, make them say “I might as well do it since I’m already being accused of it.”
“If I’m on the highway and I’m driving in the overtaking lane within the speed limits and come up behind a much slower car…9 out of 10 times, he won’t let me pass…now, either I’ll have to overtake him from the wrong lane or tailgate him till he lets me through…whatever I do will make me the ‘typical idiot BMW driver’…if a faster car is behind mine, I always let it pass so why can’t others do the same when they see a BMW behind them….Frankly, BMW owners quickly get used to the stereotype and we don’t care about it because half of the people hating us will gladly exchange their cars for what we drive.”