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Despite the likely prospect that Australia won’t see either the BMW i8 or i3 before mid-2014 at the earliest, more than six Australians have already put deposits down on BMW’s high-performance i8 plug-in hybrid sports car.

The BMW i3 is set to launch internationally in mid-2014, but all initial production volume will go to major markets including the UK, US and China.

While Australia is likely to see only small numbers of the BMW i3 during the latter half of 2014, a limited supply of i8 production models will be received locally from about the same time in 2014.

Although the BMW i3 has been largely billed as an all-electric model, BMW Australia will offer a range extended version, at least from the launch, to address any range-anxiety from buyers in Australia.

Although there are a number of expressions of interest for the BMW i3, no such deposits have been taken on the car due to the fact that BMW Australia is yet to decide on how the car will be sold. The options are a conventional transaction, lease-only model, or a combination of the two.

Pricing is yet to be confirmed for either vehicle, but with BMW expecting the i8 to go up against the Audi R8 e-tron, a project believed to be on-hold, the BMW i8 will find its own place in the segment. Nonetheless, the standard Audi R8 (entry price of $271,000) is still expected to be a guide for i8 pricing in Australia.

As a plug-in hybrid the BMW i8 combines two different drive systems: an electric motor and an internal combustion engine.

The i8 adopts the same electric motor setup from the i3 city car, but modified for use in a plug-in hybrid system, while a 164kW/300Nm turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine drives the rear axle. The two drivetrains combine to provide a top speed of 250km/h (limited) and a sprint time of 0-100km/h in less than five seconds. Fuel consumption is a claimed 2.7L/100km on a combined cycle.

The BMW i8 can also run on pure electric drive with a range of 35 kilometres, with a full-charge possible in two hours from a standard power outlet.

The BMW i3 will be BMW’s first zero emissions car as a pure electric vehicle, it will have a range between 130-160km. That distance will be increased on the range-extended version that Australia will get, but precise figures are not yet known.

Performance will be brisk, too, with the i3 able to go from 0-100km/h in less than eight seconds.




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