Autos

Quirky or Otherwise, Demand for BMW’s i3 is Sky High

BMWi3Charging

It was common knowledge that BMW’s i3 electric car was going to sell well on its release (as BMW’s first all-electric vehicle, of course it’s going to sell), but it wasn’t certain as to how well it would fly off the lots. As it turns out, it’s flying at a pretty rapid clip — speedy enough that BMW has increased production of the quirky compact some 43 percent, in order to meet the demand that has so far exceeded the company’s projections.

Daily output of the car is now reaching 100 per day, up from 70, at BMW’s Leipzig facility in Germany, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing BMW production chief Harald Krueger. He added that Bimmer has built more than 5,000 i3 units since the beginning of the year, on pace to produce 20,000 units for the rest of 2014. That’s about double BMW’s initial projections.

The production increase comes as BMW prepares to introduce the i3 to the U.S. market, which Krueger says holds the most potential for the i3. “Following the market introduction in Europe, we’re now rolling out the i3 in the U.S.,” he said in the statement, as quoted by Bloomberg. “The U.S. will be the largest market for the i3.”

When it arrives, it will be carrying a price tag of $41,350, without the gasoline-powered range-extender and before federal or state tax credits. BMW hopes to sell some 10,000 units of the i3 here this year. It uses extensive use of carbon fiber to keep the weight down, and has a range of about 80 miles, which doubles with the range-extender (a small internal combustion engine solely responsible for charging the battery).

bmw i3

“BMW invested a lot of money” on its electric-car push and using carbon fiber, according to Stefan Bratzel, the director of the Center of Automotive Management at the University of Applied Sciences in Bergisch Gladbach, Germany. “It was a bold move, but it also bears some risk as production is complex. They need to make this work,” he told Bloomberg.

The i3 will be followed up by the i8, a plug-in hybrid sports car that’s due for release later this year. At $135,000 a pop, the i8 will be a considerably lower volume endeavor than the i3, though it plays an important role in BMW’s lineup expansion.

The i3 is aimed specifically at city dwellers, and thanks to its (otherwise limited) range and diminutive size, it’s ideal for navigating busy urban centers where little to no highway driving is required. Overall, 80 miles isn’t great, but it’s more than adequate for the majority of commuters, the group that BMW is catering directly to.