BMW i3 electric car
London - Arab Today
The German luxury carmaker BMW has presented its first mass-production i3 electric hatchback. The Munich-based company underscored the seriousness of its long-term ambitions regarding mobility in Germany and abroad.
On Monday, BMW launched its i3 electric model at a promotion show in London, hoping to stir demand for an expensive luxury brand against the background of other makers facing obstacles in selling battery-powered propulsion.
"This is not a short-term endeavour," BMW Sales Chief Ian Robertson said. "We enter this market segment to with the aim of becoming a major actor."
The i3 comes after an estimated $2.7 billion (2 billion euros) investment programme, with the German carmaker hoping the resources pumped into research and development will eventually pay off.
The business environment for such products remains difficult. Consumers are sceptical about electric vehicles due to their costs, with the i3 starting at €34,950, 20 percent more than the base version of BMW's best-selling 3-Series.
There are also concerns about the driving range. According to BMW, the i3's 160-kilometer range (100-mile) is enough for drivers based in urban or suburban areas. The company reported that the car could recharge in less than an hour at special stations and up to eight hours from a wall socket at home.
A study released Monday by the Essen-based Center Automotive Research found that in the first half year of 2013, only 580 electric cars were sold in Germany, and 35 times as many in the US. German Chancellor Angela Merkel set a target of 1 million such vehicles on the country's roads by the end of the century, but so far only about 1,700 have been registered.