Top BMW executives showed the i3 in Beijing (Photo: BMW)
BMW unveiled production versions of its new i3 electric vehicle in Beijing, London and New York Monday, setting the stage for the full market introduction of the car later this year.
The Munich-based premium car maker, which hopes the i3 will give a boost to an electric car market that has been slow to take off, said it already had more than 90,000 requests for test drives, but didn't provide information on any firm orders for the vehicle.
"The i3 is more than just a car; it's a revolutionary step toward sustainable mobility," BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer said in New York.
With a range of 130 to 160 kilometers, the i3 will have the same limited autonomy as other EVs on the market already. But BMW said Â its experience with extensive test programs featuring electric Minis and BMW ActiveE vehicles have shown that such a range is "quite sufficient for the vast majority of drivers." The average distance driven daily worldwide is no more than 64 km, it said.
The i3 city car, which will be followed at a later date by an electric i8 sports car, will also be available with a range-extending two-cylinder gasoline engine with 34 hp. This will provide an extended driving range of 300 km.
The BMW i3 will be released in Germany and other European markets in November. The car will be launched in the US, China, Japan and several other markets in the first half of 2014. Its base price in Germany will be 34,950 euros.
BMW said the global market for EVs is showing a "positive development." It said 93,000 vehicles were registered worldwide last year, with 150,000 forecast for 2013.