BMW will weigh demand before extending i range

BMW has no plans to make the i3 in China.

BOCHUM, Germany (Reuters) -- BMW Group will not add a third model to its i-branded range of electric cars until it has a better idea of demand, BMW production chief, Harald Krueger, said.

The carmaker took an estimated 2 billion euro ($2.7 billion) development gamble on the green vehicles and says the i3 compact hatchback, the first model to go on sale from the subbrand, has surpassed its expectations with more than 11,000 global orders since it entered German showrooms in November.

BMW says this means that customers must wait up to six months for their cars.

BMW has trademarked the series through to number i9, hinting at the extent of its ambition, but Krueger said it currently has no plans to add to the i3 and the i8 plug-in hybrid supercar, which will go on sale this spring.

"We need to see how demand for the cars develops," Krueger said.

China production

Asked if there are plans to make the i3 in China, the world's largest car market, Krueger said that the infrastructure there is still developing and that Chinese production is not under consideration.

BMW has a factory in the Chinese city of Shenyang, where it builds BMW 3- and 5-series sedans together with its joint-venture partner Brilliance China Automotive.

Krueger declined to give a specific figure for BMW's current rate of production for the i3, which is built in Leipzig, Germany.

BMW is making increased use of lightweight carbon fiber-reinforced plastic in its i range and has built a U.S. factory in partnership with SGL Carbon to guarantee supply of the material for its cars.

Asked whether BMW would sell carbon fiber to other carmakers, Krueger said: "We want to make our own use of the capacity for now."

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