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by Tim Beissmann

BMW says it will not expand its range of i-badged plug-in vehicles until it is sure there is demand for a third model line.

BMW production boss Harald Krueger told Reuters the German brand currently has no plans for a new model to join its i3 electric/plug-in hybrid city car that launched overseas in November and its i8 plug-in sports car that’s will debut in global markets in March.

“We need to see how demand for the cars develops,” Krueger said of the car maker’s future plans.

In December 2010, BMW applied to trademark the full set of ‘i-numeral’ nameplates – from i1 to i9 – giving it the flexibility to expand its electric vehicle sub-division with models of all shapes and sizes.

Rumours from 2011 claimed the next additions to BMW’s i range would be the i4, supposedly a compact two-seat sports car based on the i3, and the i5, allegedly a 3 Series-sized sedan, while more recent rumblings in the motoring media strongly suggested a new i5 model was soon to be revealed, however these suggestions now appear somewhat premature.

BMW-i8

BMW is understood to have invested heavily in its i brand, with reports suggesting development costs of about two billion euros ($3.1 billion) to get the i3 and i8 off the ground.

The early signs are encouraging, however, with more than 11,000 global orders for the i3 since it hit German showrooms three months ago, exceeding BMW’s expectations and pushing customer waiting times out to six months.

The BMW i3 will arrive in Australian showrooms in September with a circa-$60,000 price tag for the pure-electric model and an expected $10K premium for the plug-in hybrid range-extender, while the $200,000-plus i8 is also scheduled to launch locally before the end of the year.




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