UPDATE February 2014: High demand in Europe and the US, coupled with limited production capacity, has seen the i3's Australian debut pushed out to late in 2014.
BMW's electric i3 hatch has touched down in Australia, with a single pre-production road-registered car now fulfilling promotional duties ahead of its showroom debut early in 2014.
Unveiled earlier this year, the i3 is the culmination of the BMW i project announced in 2011, and the opening salvo in the carmaker's assault on the growing electric and hybrid market.
The i3 range will hit Australian showrooms in two configurations: an all-electric i3 BEV and a range-extended model - the i3 REX (with a 647cc two-cylinder petrol engine acting as a generator).
Initially, only a handful of flagship BMW sites across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and potentially Perth will be BMW i dealers.
Those dealerships are still to be announced, although likely to be showrooms servicing inner-city areas.
But, regardless of which showrooms will have demo cars on-site, BMW is planning for all Australian dealerships to be trained in servicing the i3.
BMW Australia remains quiet on price, but in a Melbourne presentation last week, Communications Manager Lenore Fletcher acknowledged - and did not steer talk away from - speculation of a $50,000 to $70,000 price point.
In the UK, the i3 starts at £25,680 (AU$42,650), which is around the opening price of the larger 3 Series in that market.
In Australia, the 3 Series range starts with the $50,900 316i sedan, offering an idea of what sort of price the i3 could start from when it debuts here.
BMW believes buyer preference in Australia will be split 50/50 between the all-electric i3 BEV and the 'Range Extended' i3 REX.
A special six-hour wall charger will also be offered - priced at around $1000-1500 - although it is believed most buyers will simply plug-in to the regular socket each night, charging to 80 percent ready in 11 hours.
The carmaker's local arm says it has already taken a number of deposits, and also registered than 2000 expressions of interest in the new model.
Ms Fletcher added that while electric vehicles are best suited to the world's 'megacities' - cities with populations above 20 million people - the i3 is expected to prove popular with urban Australians.
As it does in Europe, BMW Australia will also offer a 360 Electric program with the i3, allowing owners to rent other BMW models - at a reduced price - when planning trips that the small i3 might not be ideal for.
BMW says the i3 was developed not only to be the ultimate electric vehicle, but also to showcase the company's green production strategies.
Production of the i3 uses around 50 percent less energy and around 70 percent less water than the current average for the company's other models.
More, all electricity used in the i3's production at Leipzig is wind-generated, marking the first time a car assembly plant in Germany has installed wind turbines on-site.
BMW i8 Coupe
BMW will grow its i range in 2014 with the all-wheel-drive i8 coupe, built to the same green-edged philosophy while taking on the performance market with a 266kW and 570Nm plug-in petrol-electric hybrid powertrain.
With a relatively light kerb weight of 1490kg, BMW says the i8's powertrain will sprint to 100km/h in "less than" 4.5 seconds.
With those sorts of figures, BMW will be looking to pinch buyers from Porsche's 911 Carrera 4S, which offers all-wheel-drive and a 4.3 second sprint to 100km/h.
The i8 is a while away from Australian showrooms. However, a handful of demo cars will land here in December next year, with timing for a launch still to be confirmed.
- Interested in buying BMW I3? Visit our BMW I3 showroom for more information.