BMW to start selling the i3 and i8 online image

BMW has decided to sell cars online for the first time, in an attempt to reach more customers in a rather inexpensive way.

And what better models to be first sold over the web than the brand’s first two electric models, the i8 and the i3? BMW has developed a direct online sales platform for its new i sub-brand aimed at drivers who are used to making daily purchases over the Internet. Naturally, sales will be focused on the world’s major urban areas.

In the real world, BMW has opened on Wednesday its first showroom dedicated to i models in London. However, the cars on display were only prototypes, as the roadgoing models are due for sale next year.

BMW is investing massively in its electric cars, with about $3 billion spent so far developing the i3 battery-powered city car and i8 plug-in hybrid supercar. Will it recover its investment? As the market looks right now, with 43,000 electric cars sold worldwide last year, it seems a very difficult task.

Pricing won’t help either: the i3 will cost €40,000 in Germany when it goes on sale in 2013, while the conventional 1-Series starts at €23,850. As for the i8, the price will exceed €100,000 when it launches in 2014.