Following higher-than-expected initial pre-orders and high levels of interest, BMW will ramp up production of the i3 electric city car by more than 40 percent in order to meet demand in the United States, according to Reuters. The BMW i3 went on sale in Europe in November, and it is expected to arrive here in the U.S. in May.
BMW was previously building roughly 70 i3 units a day, but demand in Europe and the U.S. is more than the company could manage at that rate. “The United States will be the biggest market for the i3,” BMW board member Harald Krueger told Reuters. “Because of this we have started raising production levels and are currently at around 100 cars a day.”
BMW CFO Friedrich Eichner previously predicted the production increase would be necessary. At the time, 8000 customers had pre-ordered the BMW i3 and the German automaker estimated it would sell 10,000 units of the electric city car in 2014. Reuters reports that BMW has already built 5,000 i3 vehicles and orders for more than 11,000 vehicles are already in place.
The BMW i3 all-electric city car, developed alongside the BMW i8 sports car, will start in the U.S. at $42,275 including destination. It can travel 80-100 miles on a single charge thanks to its rear-mounted lithium-ion battery pack, lightweight aluminum and carbon-fiber reinforced polymer body, and 170-hp electric motor driving the rear wheels. For an extra $3850, customers can choose to add a small gasoline engine as a battery-charging range extender.
In addition to extending the BMW brand into high-tech fuel-efficient territory, so-called Project i will also benefit existing and future production cars. Lessons learned in the engineering process, alongside plentiful carbon fiber production waste, will allow BMW to engineer lightweight parts such as full-carbon fiber wheels, steering, wheels, and propeller shafts.