2014 BMW i3
The 2014 BMW i3 electric car has represented a major risk for its maker, but at the moment, it seems to be paying off.
BMW has recently had to increase i3 production to meet unexpectedly high demand, Bloomberg reports.
The factory in Leipzig, Germany, that builds the i3 is now churning out 100 cars per day, compared to the previous rate of 70 per day.
BMW has built around 5,000 i3 electric cars so far this year, meaning it will build about 20,000--almost twice the amount initially forecast--before the end of the year if production continues at this rate.
2014 BMW i3
It is by far the best-selling plug-in electric car in Germany so far this year.
BMW has also announced that it will build a second production facility--jointly operated with SGL Carbon--to make more carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) for the i3's body shell. The electric car is the first volume mass-produced vehicle in the world to use carbon fiber in its basic structure.
The material reduces the i3's weight substantially, and is strong enough that no center pillar is needed between the front and rear doors.
The production version of the i3 was unveiled last summer, and went on sale in Europe last fall. BMW is currently taking orders for the car in the U.S., with the first deliveries scheduled for May.However, it remains to be seen whether U.S. buyers will be as enthusiastic as their European counterparts.
The car's polarizing styling and unusual positioning (for North America) as a "city car" may make it less desirable on this side of the Atlantic.
The i3 is very well suited to short-distance city driving, but that may matter less in the U.S., where most people drive longer distances at higher speeds.