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Traditional sales route set for BMW’s quirky i3

Power of “i”: More than 2000 potential buyers have expressed interest in BMW’s i3.

Owners to bow to tradition and either buy or finance i3, BMW says

18 Oct 2013

BMW owners will not need to consider mobile phone-like leasing plans for their i3 electric vehicle, with the German luxury car-maker confirming this week it will sell just like any normal car.

Peter Buchauer, BMW Australia’s director of finance and administration, said buyers would be able to either pay cash or finance the i3 once the battery-powered car arrives midway through next year.

Asked if BMW was still giving consideration to mobile phone-style monthly leasing plans for the i3, Mr Buchauer said the car-maker would sell the unconventional car using conventional sales channels.

“We will sell it (the i3) like we sell any other BMW car,” he said. “Buyers can either pay cash or seek finance.”

Mr Buchauer also ruled out the possibility that the i3 would be sold online, saying instead it would sell through selected showrooms – limited to only one in each major capital city.

According to BMW Australia managing director Phil Horton, the company was yet to decide which dealers would be appointed, but said inner-city sites would be the best candidates considering the cars’ key demographic of middle-aged, tech-savvy and well-to-do clientele.

BMW was given a break by the recent change of seats in the federal government, with the coalition saying it would roll back changes to fringe benefits tax entitlements that would have made leasing an i3 – an important part of the way that BMW sells cars in Australia – very expensive to own.

Meanwhile, the race to get the first i3 in Australia – and the first i8 hybrid sports car when it arrives late next year – is hotting up, with BMW revealing there are several “high profile” customers vying to be first in line.

Corporate communications general manager Lenore Fletcher said customers were already demanding that they have the first of the new generation of BMW “i”-badged cars.

Expressions of interest in the i3 had already blown out past 2000, she said – despite only about 200 cars being made available for the Australian market.

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