A week in advance of its debut, BMW has announced that its electric-powered BMW i3 city vehicle will sell for $42,275 in the US when it arrives in spring 2014. That’s several thousand dollars under expectations, even if it’s many thousands more
than EVs from mainstream automakers such as Ford and Nissan. But this is a BMW, and this particular BMW is the first mass production vehicle with a carbon fiber body, which rests atop an aluminum chassis, giving it a weight 500 pounds less than other EVs. It will also be sports-car quick if you don’t mind giving up some range. In Europe, where first deliveries are this fall, the price is €34,950 for German customers. (Don’t try an online euros to dollars conversion; it doesn’t work that way.) There will also be a range-extending model with a motorcycle-size gasoline engine for an upcharge of about $5,000.
From concept car (above) to show car, the i3 grew two extra doors and got a lot less concept car-like. There’s more carbon fiber and less side window glass. In other words, it’s not quite as eye-catching, if photos are an indication. The pattern applied to the near-production car (main photo) may be masking a dip down in the rear window that could take some getting used to.
Eco car, sports car, park-anywhere car
The BMW i3 is just a bit longer than a Mini Cooper at 151 inches (384cm), but the upright shape means it can carry four rather than Mini’s two plus two in discomfort, plus some luggage. The i3 is fast or economical, take your pick. Reaching 60 mph takes just over 7 seconds, BMW estimates. Max range for the i3 is 200 kilometers or 124 miles in “power-saving mode,” 20% less (160 km or 100 mi) in “comfort mode.” Add a two-cylinder, 650 cc engine for the REx range extender version and it can go 300 kilometers or 186 miles on a tank of gas. That’s not all-day driving but it’s certainly adequate for a weekend getaway. Estimates have the REx model adding €4,000 or $5,300 to the price; the BMW release did not cite the price. BMW dealers will also have a weekend swap plan where you can drop off the i3 and rent a combustion engine BMW. Or just leave it at home. BMW’s head of marketing, Ian Robertson, said the most likely buyer will be living in a large city and adding this as a second car.
First reaction: Priced well, it’ll be a player among EVs
The analyst community was generally upbeat. For instance, Commerzbank’s Sascha Gommel told Automotive News: “The price is very competitive … It seems realistic that BMW could grab a decent share of the electric-car market” with the i3. The world market for EVs is estimated at 150,000 units a year. Sales will be in largest urban areas, especially Asia, though it could also be a fashionable car for shopping in Miami Beach. The original name for the BMW i3 was the BMW Mega City Vehicle. More details are coming with BMW’s world launch next Monday (July 29) in New York, London, and Beijing.
The US list price is $41,350 plus the same $925 delivery charge for every BMW large or small.