BMW i3 at DC fast-charging stationEnlarge Photo
Introduced in Germany late in 2013, and on sale in North America starting last May, the BMW i3 electric car has produced sales figures higher than some analysts expected.
Now the carmaker has said that it sold more than 16,000 i3s during calendar 2014, putting the little electric minicar among the top plug-in electric vehicles for global sales.
BMW sold 1,741 BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports coupes as well, while the global deliveries of the much higher-volume i3 were 16,052.
More than two-thirds of those sales were in the second half of 2014, as BMW ramped up production at the plants that combine to produce the innovative carbon-fiber reinforced plastic body shells for both cars.
2013 Tesla Model S and 2014 BMW i3, Hudson Valley, NY, Nov 2014Enlarge Photo
U.S. sales of the i3 were 6,092 from May through December, or roughly 38 percent of the global total.
Of those eight months, four saw sales totals in excess of 1,000 units--meaning BMW could easily sell more than 10,000 i3s in the U.S. alone next year.
“Our production lines in Leipzig are highly flexible and we have switched more production to the i8 to reduce customer waiting times to a better level," said Harald Krüger, BMW's member of the management board for production.
ALSO SEE: 2014 BMW i3 Electric-Car Production Rises To Meet Strong Demand (Apr 2014)
"Meanwhile, more than 100 BMW i3’s leave the plant each day," Krüger continued. "The success of these cars speaks for itself.”
As it launched its BMW i program in 2012, the company said at it would have the capacity to produce up to 30,000 electric cars a year if demand warrants.
BMW had said in the past that it expected to ship about 10,000 such cars in the first full year of sales, which was 2014, so the total of 17,800 plug-in vehicles shipped would seem to represent an impressive case of overachieving.
BMW i3 Remote Vehicle Parking Assistant, coming to 2015 CESEnlarge Photo
The BMW i3 has won praise for being the most energy-efficient vehicle sold in the U.S. The battery-electric version is rated at 124 MPGe, or miles per gallon equivalent, a measure of how far it can travel electrically on the amount of energy in 1 gallon of gasoline.
That's a higher MPGe rating than any other vehicle--gasoline, diesel, plug-in hybrid, or fully electric--sold in the U.S. this year.
The little i3 also offers an optional two-cylinder range-extending engine, which provides another 70 to 80 miles of range after that version's electric range of 72 miles is depleted.
At the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, BMW unveiled a prototype for a Remote Vehicle Parking Assistant function in a BMW i3 that would allow the electric car to park itself autonomously under certain circumstances.
The 2015 BMW i3 continues on sale with no appreciable changes from the 2014 model launched in the middle of last year.