Honda once told Americans to "respect the van" in its effort to sell its Odyssey minivans. Now, BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer is telling his fellow Germans to "embrace the plug."

Reithofer cited "German angst" to explain a potential sales roadblock for the German automaker's new "i" sub-brand, which officially debuts later this year with the i3 battery-electric vehicle, Bloomberg News reports. Reithofer says Bimmer has taken a leap of faith of sorts by investing in plug-in drivetrain technology, and now needs to encourage the German public to do the same. BMW will also start selling its i8 plug-in hybrid next year.

Whether Germans will follow suit remains in question. Stefan Bratzel, director of the Center of Automotive Management at Germany's University of Applied Sciences, tells Bloomberg that plug-ins may account for as much as three percent of Germany's new-vehicle market by the end of the decade, and says Germans remain in a "phase of disenchantment" when it comes to plug-in technology.

Reithofer has previously made a different type of appeal, recently calling European emissions standards for 2020 "impossible to meet" and lobbying for funding from the German government to help with the necessary technological improvements.


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