If you’re shopping for an electric vehicle in Japan, BMW has just made it easier to buy an i3.
After partnering with Amazon Japan, the German carmaker is now selling its all-electric i3 online.
The i3 hatchback, first delivered to Japanese auto dealers a year ago, is a purpose-built EV with a range of about 81 miles. The hybrid system includes a 170-horsepower electric motor and 22 kilowatt-hours lithium-ion battery pack, which takes about 3.5 hours to get a full charge.
If you want to add a few extra miles, BMW also offers a Range Extender. This mounts a small 34-horsepower, 647-cc engine to charge the battery. After driving for 72 miles on battery alone (the heavy generator lowers the i3’s all-electric range), the generator and 1.9-gallon gas tank can keep the battery charged for about 75 more miles.
BMW is offering the i3 through Amazon Japan for 5,270,000 Japanese yen (JPY), requiring a 990,000 JPY ($8,229) down payment. This includes a manufacturer option price, which isn’t detailed further. The current currency exchange sets the i3’s overall Japanese price of $43,807 only slightly higher than the U.S. MSRP of $43,350 (which includes a destination and handling fee).
The Amazon Japan list price for the i3 Extended Range is 5,790,000 JPY ($48,130), also just a smidge higher than the U.S. price of $47,200.
In an interview with The Japan Times, a BMW spokesman said the company “wants to find more customers through the online retailer.”
“We have 46 dealers (that sell the electric model) in Japan, but we hope this ‘e-selling’ will cover the entire market more thoroughly. This will widen the sales channel and improve convenience for customers,” the spokesman said.
“So many people are using the website. We would like to research potential customer groups who may be interested in our products.”
Purchasing a BMW i3 online isn’t quite the same one-click shopping experience Amazon offers for other products. After consumers select the vehicle they want, they must wait for a BMW representative to contact them. And, before the purchase is approved, Japanese customers must send in documents verifying they have a place to park and charge the EV.
SEE ALSO: BMW i8 Is 2015 World Green Car
Amazon offers an array of parts, accessories and add-ons for cars and motorcycles on its U.S. site. Complete production vehicles, however, are not available.
In addition to the U.S. and Japan, Amazon also sells to customers in Canada, U.K., Germany, France, Italy and Spain. We reached out to BMW and Amazon to find out if this experiment will spread to additional markets, but have not yet heard any further details.