Posted Jan 31st 2015 10:00AM
BMW makes its futuristic i brand vehicles – the i3 and i8 – at a plant in Leipzig, Germany. But the customers most willing to buy one of these plug-in cars live where the lightweight carbon fiber used in the body structure is made: North America.
Speaking at the Detroit Auto Show a couple of weeks ago, Ian Robertson, member of the Board of Management at BMW AG, said, "The US and North America is already our largest market for our electric vehicles, the BMW i3 and BMW i8. Worldwide, we sold close to 18,000 BMW i models last year. Nearly three-quarters of these sales occurred in the second half of the year, when the global rollout really got underway. Demand for these vehicles continues to be high and I'm delighted that we've been able to increase production to meet that demand."
That sounds great, but the numbers aren't huge. Globally, BMW sold over two million vehicles in 2014, and 17,793 of those were plug-in i vehicles (16,052 of the i3 and 1,741 i8s). The production increase wasn't huge. BMW was making just 10 i8 vehicles a day at the beginning, but doubled that to 20 last fall. Since last spring (around April or May), the company has been making over 100 i3s a day, BMW spokesperson Verena Von L'estocq tells AutoblogGreen. Getting production right this first year has meant slow going, but "We're comfortable now," she said, adding that BMW expects more production increases in the future.