BMW i3 gets 46 UK dealers

* 46 UK dealers to sell electric city car * Network focuses on major towns and cities * Sales start in autumn, from around 35k...

BMW i3 gets 46 UK dealers

BMW's new i3 electric city car will be sold through a network of 46 British dealers when it reaches showrooms in the autumn.

The i3 makes extensive use of high-tech carbonfibre in its construction, and it will be available as either an all-electric model or as a range-extender, which features a small motorcycle engine that keeps the batteries topped up.

BMW claims that more than 6000 people have expressed interest in the i brand, which will also launch a plug-in hybrid i8 sports car in 2014.

The four-seat i3 is currently on display in a bespoke showroom on London's Park Lane. BMW has now announced 45 further dealers that will sell the car; they will also be equipped to service it, although a wider network for after-sales is likely to be established.

As expected, the network of showrooms is based in large towns and cities where the i3 is likely to prove most appropriate. Showrooms in south and north London will be bolstered by a network that includes Brighton, Bristol, Canterbury, Guildford, Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Norwich, Preston, Reading, Sheffield and Warrington.

BMW has yet to announce prices for the i3, although senior company sources have admitted that it will cost the same as a high-end 3 Series; that should give it a starting price of around 35,000, which is higher than rivals like the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt. However, BMW's sales proposition is also likely to include some access to a conventionally powered vehicle, for when the i3 owners need to travel longer distances.

By John McIlroy