In September, German premium automaker BMW will start importing electric cars to China.
The entirely electric-powered BMW i3 sedan and plug-in hybrid i8 sports car will be sold initially in the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, northeastern Shenyang, and southern Shenzhen, BMW China president Karsten Engel tells Reuters. The i3 starts at 450,000 yuan ($72,000) and is more affordable than electric car models by competitors such as Tesla Motors Inc and Volkswagen AG. Consumer interest in the car has been strong, with over 28,000 people who have already requested a test drive.
“There are many more customers than supply,” Engel said.
The i3 debuted in Europe at the end of 2013 and in the United States in April, where it retails for the suggested price of $41,350. The car has a range of about 160 kilometers and is manufactured in Germany out of aluminum and carbon fiber.
China’s market for eco-friendly vehicles is expected to grow in the next few years. The Chinese government aims to have 5 million hybrid and electric cars on the road by 2020, as part of a larger effort in Beijing to address pollution and reduce the country’s reliance on overseas oil.
BMW has made other ventures into China’s electric car market. As part of a collaboration with Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd., they have launched the Zinoro model, which is currently only available to rent.
Engel is optimistic about the growth of the market in China. “I personally would assume that in less than five years, China would be the largest market for electric mobility,” he said.
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