BMW Has Two Surprises for Fans of the i3
The BMW i3 was a big move for the brand, as the German firm felt that its first all-electric vehicle deserved its own sub-brand, which it shares with the i8. However, BMW going to wait around to see the i3 and i8 play it out; the company is reportedly already hard at work building “something a little bigger, maybe a little more range, relative to the i3,” according to BMW’s head of electric vehicle operations and strategy, Jacob Harb. That would imply that the company is building an “i5,” if the numeric system on its conventional vehicles is any indication. Harb will be traveling to Munich to ”start the discussions further” with BMW’s upper echelons regarding the company’s next round of electric vehicles, Autoblog Green reported.
While that’s happening, BMW’s initial Active E program — in which customers were able to lease an electric-powered 1 series — is ending. This means that those leasing the electric cars will need to move on to other vehicles, and an ”overwhelming majority” of them have expressed interest in moving to BMW’s i3.
“As a thank you to them for being part of this broad journey with us,” BMW will roll out the i3 Electronaut Edition, accounting for the first cars to roll off the assembly line. Harb declined to say what would be different about the special editions, but he acknowledged that the “options and features” would help distinguish the car from the outside.
Though the i3 — which has taken some heat for its unusual looks from BMW fans and enthusiasts — is already available in Europe, the U.S.-spec models likely won’t reach American shores until March. As for demand, Harb isn’t concerned. ”We expected that demand would be pretty high in the United States so we have already started to explore what we need to do to get more volume,” Harb said. The i3 is expected to cost $41,350 at base, which is about on par for BMW, but high above its EV competition, save for Tesla’s Model S.
“From an infrastructure standpoint, we benefited a lot from the Mini E and the Active E,” Harb told Autoblog. “I always use a ‘crawl, walk, run’ analogy. So, it was crawl with the Mini E — there wasn’t even J1772 then, there wasn’t even a uniform format for public charging — and we cut our teeth with the Mini E and streamlined it with the Active E, rolling out a home solar unit and embraced that true EV lifestyle, and with i, now we run.”