BMW has been inundated with requests to test-drive its first electric car, the i3.
Around 6,500 people in the UK alone have already asked for a trial run -more than the current total of EV owners in the country – and this is being replicated in all the markets where the car has been shown.
Last week BMW introduced the i3 to a select audience in California, and 1,200 people put their names down to buy one when it becomes available next year. BMW is also expecting a lot of interest in China when the car goes on sale there.
Globally, 100,000 people have registered for test drives in the few months since the car was introduced simultaneously in the UK, America and China, and BMW has 10,000 orders.
Interest is fairly evenly split between men and women, and – contrary to expectations – more people are drawn to the pure electric version than the model with a small range-extender combustion engine.
However, this is causing “a problem” in terms of supply, admitted Ian Robertson, the board member for sales and marketing. The brand-new factory in Leipzig which was set up to build BMW’s i range of electrified vehicles is currently capable of producing only 400 cars a month, largely because of production times for the bespoke carbonfibre bodies.
Next year BMW will introduce its second model in the range, the hybrid i8 sports car, which will have an official fuel consumption figure of around 80mpg and the carbon footprint of a small city car, said Robertson.
“We have excited the world about the possibilities for electric cars,” he added. “BMW is determined to play a very significant role in electric cars, and London is the driving force in a lot of our thinking. If you can’t make this thing work here…”