BMW reveals electric car plans

  • Plug-in power growing but petrol and diesel still top
  • i3 electric city car on sale in 2013 with i8 to follow
  • First ‘i’ specific dealership opens in London

BMW is planning to offer its radical 'i' electric cars as early as 2013 and has revealed a package of services it intends to offer to make them a more palatable option for potential customers currently devoted to petrol and diesel models.

The German premium car maker unveiled its strategy at the first ‘i’ dealership in Park Lane, London, which will specialise in selling both the i3 city car and i8 sports car. Although BMW accepts that conventionally powered models will have the stronghold on the market for at least the next ten years, it accepts that electric cars will become much more popular and is hoping the i3 and i8 will attract buyers looking for more premium electric offerings.

Powered by an electric motor producing 168bhp the i3 will go from zero to 62mph in under 8.0 seconds. It has a top speed of 93mph and is capable of covering 100 miles on a full charge. A full charge takes six hours and an 80% charge will take an hour. 

The BMW i3 hatchback is set to go on sale towards the end of next year with the i8 to arrive some time in 2014, but they won't be cheap. BMW would not confirm how much the i3 is likely to cost but don't be surprised if  i3's pricetag is around the £40k mark and the i8 will cost from £100,000.

The company could not confirm whether customers will pay outright for the car or buy on a lease basis. It may be a mixture of the two where the customer buys the car and rents the battery like the arrangements on the Renault Twizy. BMW did say, however, that it is a premium offering in the electric car market competing against the likes of the Nissan Leaf.

While the Bavarian brand isn’t going all-out on electric cars, it revealed further details of the kind of package potential buyers can expect when they buy an i3 or i8.

Dubbed 360 degree Electric, this service package should give peace of mind to buyers. Part of the package includes so-called ‘i’ wallboxes that will be available to buy from BMW. They will do what they say on the tin: they will be charging points located on customers homes' walls and installed by professionals. These will offer safer, convenient and faster charging.

Other services include systems such as smartphone applications to find and book in for public charging points, of which there are 2,000 in London. The company will also offer a 24-hour maintenance service.

The more progressive part of the package, however, is the 'flexible' mobility where electric car owners that plan to travel a longer distance at the weekend have the opportunity to lease or rent a standard petrol or diesel car from the manufacturer.

As a small city car, the i3 is being targeted at the so-called mega-cities like London. While the car is still in concept phase chief ‘i’ designer, Benoit Jacob, claims that the model is around 85 to 90% to what the finished product will look like.

This final 15% is likely to see the interior changed to a more standard set-up, without the fancy floating dashboard and art deco seats, while the full-glass doors are likely to be replaced with a more regular door arrangement.

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