BMW has no plans for third electric i-car, still weighing demand

BOCHUM, Germany Tue Jan 28, 2014 8:38am EST

An old BMW emblem is displayed at antique market in Olszyny near Szczytno, northern Poland July 22, 2012. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

An old BMW emblem is displayed at antique market in Olszyny near Szczytno, northern Poland July 22, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Kacper Pempel

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BOCHUM, Germany (Reuters) - BMW will not add a third model to its i-branded range of electric cars until it has a better idea of demand and does not plan to make the i3 in China, one of its top executives said on Tuesday.

The German carmaker took an estimated 2 billion euro ($2.7 billion) development gamble on the all-electric vehicles and says it has attracted more than 11,000 orders for the i3 hatchback since it entered German showrooms in November.

BMW trademarked the series through to number i9, hinting at the extent of its ambition, but the company's management board member in charge of production said it currently has no plans to add to the i3 and the i8 hybrid sportscar.

"We need to see how demand for the cars developS," Harald Krueger said, adding that the i8 is due to launch early this year.

Asked if there are plans to make the i3 in China, the world's largest car market, Krueger said that the infrastructure there is still developing and that Chinese production is not under consideration.

BMW already has production facilities in China for making its more conventional cars. Together with its joint-venture partner Brilliance China Automotive (1114.HK), BMW has a factory in the Chinese city of Shenyang, where they manufacture BMW's 3-series and 5-series sedans.

Krueger declined to give a specific figure for BMW's current rate of production for the i3, which is made in Leipzig, Germany.

In an effort to extend the driving range of its electric vehicles, BMW is making increased use of lightweight carbon fiber-reinforced plastic and built a U.S. factory in partnership with SGL Carbon to guarantee supply of the material.

Asked whether BMW would sell carbon fiber to other carmakers, Krueger said: "We want to make our own use of the capacity for now." ($1 = 0.7313 euros)

(Reporting by Edward Taylor; Editing by David Goodman)

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