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Innovative BMW i3 delayed for Oz until Q4

Electric avenue: The carbon-fibre BMW will be a technological halo car for the brand when it gets a delayed launch here in Q4.

BMW i3 cops a delayed Australian launch due to strong global demand


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27 Feb 2014

BMW’S all-new i3 electric car is facing a delayed Australian launch as the company seeks to strong meet demand in key North American, European and Japanese markets.

Originally set for a July local launch, the pure EV and range-extender hybrid (either are available) is now pencilled in for a fourth quarter release this year.

With BMW already holding over 11,000 orders and rising for the i3 globally, it has been reported that the waiting list for buyers could extend well over six months.

Sales for the i3 commenced in Europe last November, with the US, Japan, China and Korea also receiving the vehicle this year.

“At the end of the year is when we will see the i3,” BMW Australia managing director Phil Horton said this week, speaking from the local launch of the new 2 Series coupe.

“We won’t get the production that we ideally would like anyway, because America and Japan and Europe in particular is where the car is going to be big – and they will soak up most of the production that the factory can do.”

BMW already has a number of takers for both the i3 and the i8 electric sports car also due here late this year, despite the lack of advertising and very little promotional activity bar a sole example of an i3 in one of its dealerships.

“We already have a lot of interest in them,” Mr Horton said. “We have about 20 i3s and 10 i8s – that’s people putting down money for cars.

“And we’re quite happy (with that) considering we have done no marketing for these cars at all. We know it will be a niche car here.” However, despite the modest volume expectations, Mr Horton reiterated the calls of his predecessors and other heads of car companies with EVs in their model-range portfolios for some support from governments on all levels in Australia to help the zero emissions vehicle cause along.

“I would like some sort of incentive – be it on a federal, state or local level – and I would be delighted if we have just one token gesture towards zero-emissions vehicles,” he said.

“Be it free tolls, free or lower-paid parking in metro areas, or some sort of rebate… and I would love to see something like the UK’s £5000 (about $A9300) rebate for zero emissions vehicles.” Mr Horton said that despite their low sales projections, the new electric vehicles from BMW have a vital role in maintaining the brand’s credibility as a technologically progressive company.

“Although in this country unfortunately there will be relatively tiny volumes, we do see those as such a huge supporter for the innovative element of the BMW brand, which has traditionally been one of our strong points,” he said.

“So for the tiny number of cars that we are going to be doing over the next three to five years, there is some real PR benefits to be gained. You can make a real statement.

“That’s how the i3 can get a little bit of cut-through.” The ‘i’ cars bring to the table a host of new developments, from their radical body-shells made of carbon-fibre reinforced plastics, their recycled cabin materials and their ‘holistic’, energy-efficient means of production in a wind-powered German factory.

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