Sales of the BMW i3 in the German home market have increased significantly since the German government decided this spring to offer a $4,400 incentive to buyers of electric cars. Previously, Germany was one of the few countries that lacked any EV incentives at all. The BMW i3 is now available with a more powerful battery that extends its range to 114 miles — about one third more than the i3 with the original battery is capable of.
Citing BMW company sources, German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung says orders for then new version of the i3 have risen “many times over” compared to orders for the original car. The newer version offers significantly more range for only a small increase in price — about $1,200. The BMW i3 with upgraded battery starts at $44, 595. It is available in the eye catching Protonic Blue that debuted on the i8 hybrid electric sports car earlier this year for an additional charge. BMW now has 5,000 orders for the new version of the i3, of which about 1,000 are from customers in Germany.
BMW announced last month that it is reorienting its “i”division to focus more on Level 4 autonomous cars. Its long rumored third “i” model is said to feature the very latest in machine learning and self driving technology. It will be called the iNext, according to company sources. BMW also plans a sportier version of the i3 by 2018 and intends to launch the next new electric car in 2021.
The i3 is finding increasing favor with police departments who want to raise their “green” image while using electric cars for routine, non-emergency service. The Los Angeles police department just agreed to lease 100 i3s. In Austria, the town of Wattens has added an i3 to its fleet of police vehicles. The Wattens car gets the award for best paint scheme by a police department. That car will have the original battery, which will allow it to travel about 65 miles between charges while on patrol. It does not have the range extender engine installed.
The BMW i3 is much loved by those who drive them, but total sales have been disappointing. With a base price well above $40,000, it is not a car for economy minded shoppers. Instead, it is a symbol of why electric car sales have failed to ignite the way many hoped they would — it is just too expensive for the performance available. The new incentive package from the German government helps, but the car is still out of reach for many shoppers.