Editor's note: A previous version of this story provided incorrect information regarding the current financial state of Fisker Automotive. PARIS -- BMW has about 100,000 reservations from around the world from people who want to test its first electric vehicle, sales boss Ian Robertson said, adding that the automaker has "significant numbers of deposits" for the car.
BMW has 100,000 waiting to test i3, sales boss says
Robertson bullish on future of EVs as tech gets better
Based on this high interest, Robertson believes the i3 will be a game-changer in the sector.
"We are confident that with the i3 and i8 we will shift the [customer demand] needle because we will shape some of this technology" in the EV sector, Robertson said at the Automotive News Europe Congress here today.
The production version of the i3 compact car will be unveiled at the Frankfurt auto show in September and go on sale before the end of the year. Robertson said the i3 differs from many of the EVs on the road today because it was developed as an EV from the start, rather than being conventional car with an electric powertrain dropped in.
When asked for the car's starting price, Robertson said that it would be in the same range as the 3 series, which in Germany is priced between 28,800 and 38,800 euros for base versions.
The car's Frankfurt arrival will come about 30 months after BMW announced the creation of its "i" subbrand, which will also includes the i8 plug-in hybrid supercar.
Despite the financial struggles at luxury plug-in hybrid maker Fisker Automotive and charging infrastructure supplier Better Place, Robertson remains confident the i3 and i8 will be profitable during their life cycles.
When asked if BMW was making a big gamble by entering the segment, Robertson said: "It is an investment in a future agenda, and it's an agenda where we think zero-emission vehicles have a very, very key part to play."
He also believes that the future looks promising because of the huge amount of r&d going into EVs, particularly with regard to the batteries.
"In the next three to four years we'll see more development of the batteries than we have in the last 100," he said, adding that the prospects for lithium air batteries are particularly positive because they charge faster and provide a range more in line with what people believe they need.