BMW will greatly expand its presence in Australia's fledgling electrified vehicle space during 2016, with plans to add two plug-in hybrid models and double its network of registered ‘BMW i’ dealers.
BMW Australia currently has six dedicated dealers selling the i3 and i8, in all states and territories with the exception of NT and Tasmania. In 2016 it will double the network to 12 sites nationwide.
These sites will also be tasked with selling two plug-in hybrid offerings based on its top-selling 3 Series and X5 models — the BMW 330e and X5 xDrive40e — taking BMW Australia’s electrified fleet to four vehicles.
Unlike the ground-up, radically designed i models, built in their own factory powered largely by renewables and on their own unique platforms, the 330e and X5 xDrive40e are simply derivatives of existing models.
Speaking with CarAdvice this week, BMW Australia managing director Marc Werner said the reception to the i range launched here in late 2014 had been “overwhelming”.
He added that the two new PHEV models would continue to position the brand as “the leader when it comes to green technology”, and poach further new buyers to the brand in a similar way to the more radically designed i models.
“We have decided that off the back of the introduction of the PHEVs in Q2, it makes perfect sense, a very logical next step, to combine this offer together with the BMW i network, hence we decided to offer i brand to further BMW dealers,” Werner said.
Werner added that the expansion was part of BMW’s eventual strategy to electrify its entire range of offerings. This four models — the i3 hatch in pure electric or plug-in guise, the i8 plug-in sports car, the 330e plug-in sedan and X5 xDrive40e plug-in SUV — give BMW good segment coverage.
It’s no secret that BMW plans to expand its i brand, with the i5 expected to be the first addition. We asked Werner if BMW Australia would bring any new i model here, to which he responded: “There will certainly be some kind of announcement in the short term… we cannot confirm anything yet”.
BMW Australia sold 150 units of the $64,000-$70,000 i3 in 2015, more than the cheaper Nissan Leaf.
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