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BMW i3 for 3 Series money

Low charge: North America’s BMW chief executive says electric i3 will sell for around $US40,000.

Australian pricing for BMW i3 EV a step closer

8 May 2013

BMW’S battery-powered city car could cost about the same as a mid-range 3-Series when it arrives in Australia next year.

The expected $70,000 price tag for the i3 – translated to Australian dollars – comes after the German luxury car-maker’s North American chief executive, Ludwig Willisch, let slip that the battery-powered version of the car will sell in the US for about $US40,000, or about the same as a 328i sedan once US government subsidies for electric car buyers are taken into account.

The same sedan sold in Australia retails for about $66,000 before on-road costs, making the i3 four-seat hatchback potentially $10,000 more expensive than the larger four-seat Holden Volt hybrid car (which sells at $59,990).

However, while the i3 will initially launch in the US as a battery-fuelled electric car, Australia’s concerns over range anxiety – how far the i3 will travel before the batteries run flat – means the version of the city car sold here will more likely use a more expensive petrol-electric hybrid system featuring a 650cc twin-cylinder engine.

The i3 will face some stiff alternate-fuel opposition when it lands in Australia.

Earlier this month, Japanese car-maker Nissan announced it would cut $7000 off the price of its all-electric Leaf to just under $40,000. The Leaf is now $15,000 cheaper than when it was launched on the Australian market in June last year.

Renault’s Zoe electric car, meanwhile, is due to go on sale in Australia next year, wearing a price tag of about $30,000.

BMW’s i3 will differ from other electric cars on the market because it uses expensive manufacturing techniques, including a carbon-fibre passenger cell, that makes it more costly to build.

BMW Australia said it did not expect the i3 to be a volume model, with first-year sales tipped to be “easily less than triple digits”.

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