UK will be at forefront of BMW’s electric-car charge image

The UK will be one of the leading global markets for BMW’ all-electric i3, which was unveiled simultaneously in London, New York and Beijing yesterday.

Initially, though, the Dutch will lead the sales charge. With its advanced recharging infrastructure, tax incentives – and almost total lack of hills – Holland will be another key market and is expected to take up to 60% of the early production.

Just over one in six of BMW’s 3,000 global dealers has signed up to be an i agent, but in the UK the percentage is much higher – more than a third.

They have been chosen not only because of their location in major urban areas where the battery-electric car makes most sense, but also because of their ability to repair its carbonfibre and aluminium passenger cell and to work on its high-voltage powertrain.

London is seen as a city with huge potential for the i3, hence its inclusion as one of the three global launch venues. “It is the largest and fastest-growing metropolitan area in Europe and typifies the urban mobility challenges of the future,” said Tim Abbott, the head of the BMW Group in the UK.

The i3 will be available from £369 a month plus a deposit of just under £3,000 from November – or it can be bought for £25,680 after the Government’s £5,000 ultra low emissions vehicle grant. This is much less than many analysts had predicted.

BMW is offering a variety of charging solutions, connectivity services and hire schemes for its conventional cars so that i3 users have maximum flexibility with minimum anxiety, and will also have a range-extender version of the i3 with a 650cc two-cylinder petrol engine serving as an electricity generator for the batteries. This will increase the range from between 80 and 100 miles in all-electric mode to around 185 miles.

Despite the competitive pricing structure, BMW insists it is not supporting the i3 with incentives to get the car established in the market. “It will make money from Day One,” said board member for sales and marketing Ian Robertson.