BMW’s new i-series is boosting BMW’s global image, and in the U.S. the automaker intends to boost availability.

The company has sold 3,104 i3s from May-September in the U.S. this year, and the i8 sold nine when launched in August, 58 in September, and it is sold out at BMW dealers through to 2015 showing just how low the initial allocation has been.

The i8 starts at $136,650 including shipping, and heavy U.S. demand is coaxing BMW to adjust its inventories over the coming months.

“We are looking at taking a few i3 slots and making i8s because they go down the same production line,” said Ian Robertson, the company’s board member for sales and marketing, “The wait times are too long, and we will adjust that and sell more i8s, but cautiously.”

Globally, BMW is selling around 100 i-Series cars per day, he said, and this about equals daily production.

To date BMW has globally sold 10,000 i3s and 280 i8s.

The carbon fiber reinforced plastic cars are doing much to burnish BMW’s image too, said Robertson.

Aluminum is still a lightweight material other automakers have introduced on some models or planning to introduce, but to onlookers BMW’s technological prowess appears far out and ahead, he said.

Both cars are assembled in Leipzig, Germany and worldwide there have been 130,000 test drives of the i-Series cars to date.

If the i8 has been loosely compared as an alternative to a Tesla Model S, it is evident BMW never thought it would sell in nearly the volume of that all-electric car.


Rather, it’s the small urban commuter i3 that has a better chance of rising to Tesla’s still higher level in time. Even in a down month for plug-ins in September, BMW sold 1,022 i3s between the battery electric and range-extended versions. This placed it fourth among all plug-in cars last month.

Tesla’s designer may once have called the i3 an “Ikea” level of design, but the market is approving of the $42,300 BMW that does a lot of what a Nissan Leaf does, but with a different vibe, technological innovation, and style.

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