BMW Details U.S. Dealership Plans for 2014 BMW i3 and i8 | Edmunds

BMW Details U.S. Dealership Plans for 2014 BMW i3 and i8

Just the Facts:
  • The majority of BMW's 329 U.S. dealers will offer the electric 2014 BMW i3 and i8.
  • BMW told Edmunds that 44 of its U.S. dealers have decided not to sell the electric cars.
  • Special training is planned for the sales teams and for the service technicians.

DETROIT — Some car shoppers interested in acquiring an electric-powered 2014 BMW i3 or i8 might have to go shopping for the car in a big city. Simply put, while the majority of BMW dealers will offer the cars, some have decided to skip the launch.

Of BMW's 329 U.S. dealers, 44 dealers have decided not to sell the car, BMW of North America President and CEO Ludwig Willisch told Edmunds.

Those dealers might have made that decision because of "their size, their location," Willisch said.

"There might be some who just said, 'I am selling 200 BMWs a year and I am somewhere out in the boondocks," he said. "Sales really don't make sense for me.' "

The i3 will go on sale in late April followed by the i8 this summer, he said. The base i3 carries a $42,275 sticker price including $925 destination fee. The futuristic-styled i8 is priced at $136,625 including transportation. Prices do not include any federal or state incentives.

Dealers will highlight the two electric vehicles with a special showroom display, located in a corner that will separate the cars from other BMW models. A handful of dealers in California are building a separate showroom for the i3 and i8, he said.

Special training is planned for the sales teams and especially for the service technicians who will work on the cars.

"The technician has to be a certified high-voltage electrician," Willisch said during an interview at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show.

The i3 has a range of about 100 miles with a full charge. However, most buyers are expected to order the model with what Willisch called "a safety net," a range extender. That car stickers for $46,125 including shipping.

"It is a little generator with a 650cc engine that charges the battery when the battery needs to be recharged," he said.

Willisch stayed clear of making a sales prediction for either electric model.

Speaking of the i3, "I told the board and everyone who wanted to listen that we will sell every i3 that we can get our hands on," he said. "The car is just in the process of being launched worldwide so there are a lot of markets that haven't launched the car yet. Among those is the United States.

"It is not a demand question. It is a question of output, i3 production."

BMW spokesman Dave Buchko said the automaker has approximately 65,000 hand raisers for the two electric-powered models.

"We don't separate out the two models but one can assume that the vast majority of those are for the i3," Buchko said in an e-mail.

The i3 was available for test drives at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month in Las Vegas. BMW had 40 cars and did nearly 3,000 test drives at the show.

"People were really lining up and wanting to make sure that they got on the list to be contacted as soon as the car is available," Willisch said.

Edmunds says: Car shoppers should have no trouble getting their hands on the 2014 BMW i3 and i8, but it's probably best to check with your local dealer when it comes to availability.

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