All car brands evoke certain feelings, stereotypes, sometimes even downright prejudices. You’ve no-doubt heard these 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 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 study by One Poll reveals that the perception of typical BMW drivers is “Smarmy BMW businessmen, holier-than-thou Prius drivers and reckless Subaru boy-racers”.
While that is nothing but a 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.”
A second study from the UK is even more shocking. When researchers asked over 2,000 participants to share their experience with road rage and aggressive driving, one brand came to mind. BMW drivers, especially males in their late 30s and 40s 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. While this confidence might merely stem from driving ‘’The Ultimate Driving Machine,” it does tend to give off a whiff of superiority. For reference, the 2nd place in the “knowledgeable” category is taken by Chrysler drivers at 56. All other drivers scored under 50% for this personality trait.
While those traits alone are not too serious reasons for condemnation, combined with the other characteristics they do start to conjure up a mental picture. You will imagine the typical asshole you’d instantly root against in a movie. Someone with slicked hair who speaks too loudly, disrespects the waiter, cheats on his wife, and finally gets punched.
You don’t put chocolate on a mouse trap, you put cheese because that’s what mice like. That’s why what a brand decides to bait their advertisements with speaks volumes of their target audience’s personality. The ad below, as creative as it is, certainly doesn’t portray BMW drivers as the biggest gentlemen:
Reality Making Stereotypes
Nevertheless, no two people are the same, and no stereotype should be taken as a universal truth.
It’s important to remember that BMWs are some of the best cars out there. Naturally, people who can afford it are likely to have high-end jobs and consider themselves winners in life. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But 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. They were surpassed by quite a few brands, including Mercedes, Audi, Lexus, and even Volvo drivers.
Stereotypes Making Reality
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.”
Check out our investigation into Audi drivers to see how they stack up to BMW owners.