BMW will sell its i3 electric vehicle, slated for official debut on July 29, for a base price of $42,275.
"The BMW i3 has strong emotional appeal, outstanding product substance and a guarantee of sheer driving pleasure," Ian Robertson, a BMW board member, said in a statement.
Enthusiasts will be able to judge for themselves next week when the automaker's first battery electric model premieres in New York, London and Beijing. Carrying a 22-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery, the i3 promises 80-100 miles between charges. A carbon fiber-reinforced body and aluminum frame house the electric motor capable of 170 horsepower and 184 pounds-feet of torque.
Public charging should be fairly convenient for i3 owners; the car will be able to plug into the standard Level 2 charging stations, as well as the DC Combo-Fast Chargers rolling out across the country. The fast chargers provide an 80% charge in roughly 30 minutes.
Gartner auto analyst Thilo Koslowski said BMW could have the potential to shake up the top-tier EV market -- eventually.
"So far, Tesla is the only vehicle manufacturer in the premium electric car market, and BMW could dethrone them with an equivalent product," Koslowski said. "But I'm not sure it's quite up to a Tesla in terms of brand perception or even the size of the vehicle. The i3 still represents an entry model."
The Tesla Model S starts at $62,400 after a $7,500 rebate, and can run upward of $100,000 with the largest available battery and option packages.
Koslowski said the i3’s impending release turns up the pressure on Tesla to establish its brand more firmly. “Gaining as much mind share as possible at this point is hugely important,” he said. “The clock is ticking for Tesla in its unique position. They have to leverage the thrust they have now.”