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Even greener BMW i8 still on track for Oz in 2014

Super saver: BMW’s ultra-frugal i8 sportscar is still on track for an Australian launch late this year despite pent-up demand overseas before it even goes on sale.

Australia still on schedule for i8 despite pent-up demand in key markets

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BMW logo11 Mar 2014

By BARRY PARK

BMW Australia says pent-up international demand for its i8 plug-in petrol-electric hybrid sportscar won’t delay the halo model’s launch in Australia late this year.

The German car-maker still intends launching the 170kW three-cylinder petrol-engined two-door coupe here either late this year or early in 2015 despite a warning from BMW that demand for the car had already outstripped its planned production.

“Customers have already been able to place pre-orders for the BMW i8 in all major markets since (European) autumn 2013,” BMW said in a statement released overnight.

“However, demand for the BMW i8 is already exceeding the planned production volume during ramp-up.” Full-scale production of the carbon composite-bodied coupe starts next month, with the first overseas customers expected to take delivery in June.

BMW Australia general manager of corporate communications Lenore Fletcher said the three-cylinder petrol-engined i8 was still slated in for a launch here towards the end of 2014.

“We will have a couple of i8 vehicles here late this year that we will introduce to a few of our customers,” Ms Fletcher said.

“We still think proper sales of the i8 will start either late this year or early next year.” BMW’s insistence that the i8 is still on track is in stark contrast to the smaller i3 city hatchback, which is facing a delayed Australian launch as the company seeks to meet strong demand in North American, European and Japanese markets.

Ms Fletcher said the i8 would be at the top of BMW’s Australian vehicle line-up, and the car-maker expected it to sell in “very small numbers”, with buyers already queuing up to leave a deposit on either it or the smaller i3.

The news came as BMW announced it had squeezed out even more fuel savings from the i8 that show it produces almost half the emissions of Toyota’s environmental poster car, the Prius, despite its sportscar performance.

Even though it will sprint from 0-100km/h in just 4.4 seconds, the i8 will now officially use only 2.1 litres of fuel on the European cycle for every 100 kilometres it travels, emitting only 49 grams per kilometre of carbon dioxide.

That compares with the Prius’s 3.9L/100km and 89g/km CO2.

BMW said the i8 could also deliver significant fuel savings in the real world.

“In typical everyday commuting, with the battery fully charged at the beginning, the BMW i8 can return a fuel consumption below 5.0L/100km around town,” it said.

“If the commute includes extra-urban or motorway driving less than 7.0 litres are achievable.

“Even in longer-distance operation at higher speeds, drivers can keep their average fuel consumption below 8.0L/100km.

“Overall, the fuel consumption of the plug-in hybrid model therefore works out around 50 per cent better than that of conventionally powered sports car models.”

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