BMW's electric car strictly for the ’burbs

BMW's electric car strictly for the ’burbs
Inner-city types can catch the bus, German luxury car maker says.
BMW says electric car buyers are more likely to live in the suburbs than the inner-city.

Spokesman Scott Croaker says the company is in the very early stages of planning the 2014 launch of the i3 electric city car and thinks inner-city buyers will opt for public transport instead of an electric car.

‘‘We tend to think it will be people in the outer suburbs who buy it, not people living right in the city,’’ Croaker says.

‘‘We expect it will be people living in outer suburbs who use the car for commuting. It’s more likely to be a second car than the main car in the garage.
‘‘Our trials have shown that most people only travel short distances and use about a third of the car’s range each day, so we expect that they will only need to recharge the car every few days,’’ he says.

Croaker also recognises that improvements in the fuel efficiency of its cheaper, conventionally-engined cars will also pose a threat to acceptance of the i3.

Holden has revealed its upcoming Volt petrol-electric hybrid car will cost about the same as a high-end BMW 3-Series car, or about $65,000, when it arrives here at the end of the year.

It is promoting the car on the cost of recharging the batteries, saying each top-up costs about $2.50 - about the same price as a cup of coffee - which will give about 60 kilometres of petrol-free driving range.

BMW’s just-launched entry-level 318d, meanwhile, officially uses only 4.5 litres per 100 kilometres, and costs about $10,000 less than the expected price of the Volt.

BMW Australia says it will introduce two versions of the i3. One will rely purely on a bank of batteries that will provide about 160 kilometres of range in ideal conditions, with the other will use a small conventional engine to generate electricity and recharge a bank of batteries, giving a much better range.

Croaker expects more Australian buyers will be interested in the range-extended version of the vehicle than the battery-powered one, with range anxiety - where a battery runs out of power before the i3 reaches its destination - likely to be at the front of many buyers’ minds.
He says BMW Australia is already in early talks with electricity suppliers over how i3 owners will recharge their cars.

The company may decided to sign buyers up with an electricity provider when they buy the i3. Croaker says the electricity company will then be able to fit a rapid recharging station at the owner’s home, allowing a battery top-up to take a few hours rather than overnight if using just a wall socket.

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