There’s a new kid in the EV pool, and there’s every reason to believe it’s going to make a big splash. BMW proudly announced the first delivery of an i3 to a US customer this week. A Boston university professor and ActiveE “electronaut” drove his new i3 off the lot on May 2.
Demand for the eagerly-anticipated EV is huge. It’s been among the top-selling plug-ins in Europe since going on sale there in November, and the wait to get one quickly grew to six months. BMW has raised daily production to 100 vehicles, and plans to build about 20,000 units in 2014.
Two recent tidbits of good news may boost sales even further. The EPA has rated the i3’s range at 81 miles, and its fuel economy at 124 MPGe combined, which makes it the most efficient EV available. Also, the state of California has decided that the i3 with the optional range-extending gas engine will be eligible for the same $2,500 purchase rebate as the fully electric version – and for the coveted “green sticker” that allows use of the state’s HOV lanes.
The i3 REx is the only car with a combustion engine that qualifies for the maximum rebate – PHEVs such as the Volt, C-Max and Fusion Energi, and Prius Plug-In receive only a $1,500 rebate. Unlike these models, the i3’s range-extending engine kicks in only when the battery is entirely depleted, and the additional range is less than the car’s electric range.
For now, the REx news is a moot point, as the state will issue no more HOV stickers this year, and funds for the rebates have run out as well. Buyers will presumably receive the $2,500 rebates eventually, but will have to join a waiting list, and aren’t expected to get their checks for several months.