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BMW i3 Demand Will Be Strong In U.S. Too, Says Executive

 
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2014 BMW i3

Early demand for BMW's i3 electric car in Europe looks set to continue when it debuts in the United States, according to the company's North American CEO.

Despite plans to produce just 10,000 units in its first year, BMW has considered expanding production after 8,000 reservations were made on the car's launch in Europe.

Speaking to The Detroit News, BMW North America CEO Ludwig Willisch said the company expects to sell all of the vehicles allocated to dealers, and while no specific number was mentioned, the figure would be more than a "few thousand".

Unlike some electric automakers that don't make vehicles available across the U.S, there'll be no such problem for i3 buyers--285 of BMW's 330 U.S. dealers have been certified to sell the small electric city car and its range-extended brother.

The real problem, says Willisch, will be competing demand from BMW dealers all over the world, limiting supply for North America. Much of that is likely to come from Europe, where the car goes on sale on November 16. Production for the U.S. market will begin in March.

MORE: 2014 BMW i3: First Drive Of BMW's Radical New Electric Car

Eventually, BMW is aiming for worldwide production of 30,000 units per year--a realistic estimate given existing electric vehicle sales rates.

BMW touts the i3 as a car to "meet the mobility needs of people that live in the city". It still isn't clear whether there's demand for such a specific vehicle in the U.S.--but the BMW badge on the nose is sure to contribute to its sales tally.

Even the range-extended version, designed to meet Californian guidelines for "auxiliary power units" adds only modest range, ruling out the i3 for truly long-distance trips.

Pricing for the i3 starts at $42,275 for the electric model, and $46,125 for the range-extended version. Both prices include BMW's $925 destination fee, but don't include any relevant state or federal incentives.

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