SHANGHAI May 28 BMW will start
delivering imported electric cars in China in September, with
pre-orders indicating short supplies in a market that could
become the world's biggest for green vehicles, China president
Karsten Engel said on Wednesday.
The German premium automaker will sell its all-electric
powered BMW i3 sedan and plug-in hybrid i8 sports car in four
Chinese cities initially, with a sales cap of 1,000 vehicles
this year, Engel said. The i3 starts at 450,000 yuan ($72,000),
cheaper than some had expected.
"There are many more customers than supply," Engel told
reporters in Shanghai, where BMW launched a project to build
charging facilities with State Grid Corp of China and
Expo Shanghai Group.
Engel declined to say how many pre-orders the company has
received in China for the i3 since the model was unveiled at the
Beijing auto show last month, but said more than 28,000 people
have requested a test drive in a sign of public interest.
Munich-based BMW competes with rivals including Tesla Motors
Inc, Volkswagen AG and Daimler AG
in selling electric cars in China's slowly developing
market for environmentally friendly vehicles.
China has set an ambitious target of putting 5 million
electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles on the country's roads by
2020, part of Beijing's efforts to fight pollution and reduce
reliance on oil imports.
"I personally would assume that in less than five years,
China would be the largest market for electric mobility," Engel
Tesla launched its luxury Model S in China earlier this
year, Daimler and Chinese carmaker BYD Co Ltd
will start selling the Denza electric car this year
and Volkswagen plans to sell more than 15 green vehicle models
in China by 2018.
Initially launched in Europe toward the end of 2013, the BMW
i3 is made in Germany out of carbon fiber and aluminium and has
a range of around 160 kilometers. It was introduced in April in
the United States, retailing for a suggested price of $41,350.
The i3, which will be sold in Shanghai, Beijing, southern
Shenzhen and northeastern Shenyang, is cheaper than Tesla's
Model S which starts at 648,000 yuan in China.
Through its joint venture with Brilliance China Automotive
Holdings Ltd, BMW has also launched an electric
vehicle in China, the Zinoro, which for now is only available
($1 = 6.2392 Chinese Yuan)
(Reporting by Samuel Shen and Kazunori Takada; editing by
Kenneth Maxwell and Tom Pfeiffer)