Herald Sun - Motoring - - Cars Guide Confidential - Twit­ter: @PaulWardGover

GREY power is giv­ing a sur­pris­ing boost to the new green car at BMW.

The elec­tric baby i3 was in­tended to bring gen-Y young­sters to the car and com­pany but early re­turns in­stead show age­ing baby boomers have fallen for the trendy city car.

They have been won over by con­ve­nience — the i3 is ideal for in­ner-city living and short-haul work that doesn’t threaten the i3’s 125km range on plug-in bat­tery power. They’re also more pre­pared to pay about $70,000 to do some­thing pos­i­tive for the planet.

Even so, i3 sales — and the tally for its big­ger brother, the i8 hy­brid su­per­car — have barely trou­bled the scor­ers in Australia. It’s been a sim­i­lar story with other early elec­tric ar­rivals, such as the aw­ful Mit­subishi i-MiEV and Nis­san Leaf. For Re­nault, plans to im­port the elec­tric Zoe have stalled be­cause there is zero in­cen­tive from gov­ern­ments for the early adopters — un­like Ger­many, Bri­tain and the US, which typ­i­cally give up to $15,000 in tax breaks and other in­cen­tives.

BMW says the early num­bers for the i3 are not as bad as they look. A quick call to one of the i-car deal­ers re­veals an or­der book with a rel­a­tively healthy 50 cars. The same out­let is ap­proach­ing dou­ble dig­its for the i8, de­spite a price that puts it in Porsche 911 coun­try. Yet this year only 24 of the i3s have been de­liv­ered in Australia.

“Sales of BMW i3 and i8 have been slightly re­stricted due to sup­ply is­sues,” says BMW Australia spokes­woman Lenore Fletcher.

“Our cur­rent tally is 24 (year-to-date) for i3 and eight for i8 but we ex­pect that to in­crease with ve­hi­cles de­liv­ered in March.”

She de­clines to com­ment on the type of buy­ers but hopes that sales will in­crease as more cars ar­rive and peo­ple begin to see them on the road.

“As we in­di­cated at launch, our goal with th­ese BMW i ve­hi­cles is not to have high vol­umes.” The plug-ins, she says, were to be rolling show­pieces of BMW’s “prow­ess in de­vel­op­ing in­no­va­tive tech­nolo­gies”.

Tech­nol­ogy show­piece: BMW i3

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