BMW i3 Gets Closer To U.S. Launch as Electronauts Start Placing Orders

BMW’s enthusiastic army of electronauts — the several hundred-strong group of EV enthusiasts who helped BMW field-test the i3’s drivetrain inside an entire fleet of BMW ActiveE cars — have collectively covered millions of miles in the field for BMW, provided feedback on the German automaker’s Ev technology, and been fantastic ambassadors for the brand.

BMW Electronauts are getting ready to get their i3s.

BMW Electronauts are getting ready to get their i3s.

Now, many of them are getting ready to hand back their leased 1-series based AcitveEs in exchange for a production i3, with many of them having made their official orders for the four-seat luxury EV.

As a thank you for their hard work and commitment to the brand, BMW is offering its Electronauts the option of buying a special edition i3 only available to current BMW ActiveE lease holders. While the specifications have yet to be fully confirmed, BMW says that i3 Electronaut Edition cars will be the first ones off the production line, ensuring its current EV drivers are the first i3 drivers on the road. In order for that to happen though, Electronauts who want an i3 ahead of everyone else must send a specially-generated order code to BMW by January 17.

At the time being though, it appears the only thing Electronauts have to confirm is if they want the all-electric i3 or the range-extended i3 REx plug-in hyrbid. Everything else is fairly flexible at this time. Given the news from California last week that the i3 REx won’t be eligible for the highly-prized white Access OK HOV lane sticker, we’re wondering just how many ActiveE drivers are thinking about dumping the benefits of the range-extended plug-in hybrid option for the security of knowing they’ll definitely be able to use the carpool lane.

With details still scant and last week’s news still ringing around the community, many activeE drivers are holding off making an official reservation, but BMW does appear to be letting drivers place their names down on the order books as a tentative order with a view to firming up with a deposit and contract singing as and when the final Electronaut edition is set in stone.

There will be an Electronaut special edition for ActiveE drivers -- but we don't know what it will include over the base models yet.

There will be an Electronaut special edition for ActiveE drivers — but we don’t know what it will include over the base models yet.

We’ve also heard several rumors online from people who claim to have already made lease agreements for an i3, and one person who has even said they have a delivery date set for February 22. But with so much yet to be decided on, we’re not sure how long it will be before BMW’s order books are officially firmed up for this very important and already very popular plug-in car.


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  • vdiv

    If BMW needs a “special edition” i3 to keep the electronauts that does not bode well for the “regular editions” i3’s as it means BMW is resorting to tricks to sell this car.

  • vdiv

    Oh boy! TE’s advertisers have read Electra Girl’s blog post:n

  • Dennis Pascual

    vdiv…nnnI need the tricks to convince my better half to stick with BMW. The aesthetics of the i3 has always been an issue. I’ve learned to appreciate it, my wife remains unconvinced. nnnAs of the writing of this response, I’ve been in discussions with several dealerships and some are allowing orders without deposits and even those that require a deposit will refund. Assuming a standard delay, I am fairly confident that any i3 with REX that I would order as one of the 700 (I feel like one of the Spartans, just not as muscular) would arrive in time for the California Green sticker.nnnA February 22nd delivery is very early. I’ve been told that BMW will go through the orders placed on February 5th and build schedules will be provided after that.nnnEither way, I have about four days to place my order…

    • vdiv

      Good luck with that!nnnnI really wish BMW used the purpose-built technology and pushed the all-electric range to at least a 125 miles plus another 125 on the range extender. All other concerns with the i3 seem less important. Maybe you guys should have driven the Active E a bit more and ran out of charge a few times to convince BMW that longer range is needed ;)nnnnIf in a year or so they unleash a slightly larger i5 with such range for say $5k more then it would be an easy decision.

      • Dennis Pascual

        It takes talent to run out of charge…. In my over 50k miles of driving my Active E the lowest on the guess o meter was 1 mile left when I got home.nnnI often drive 102 miles a day and drive like any other A**H&$# BMW driver, so my range was closer to 80 than 100 miles, but was lucky enough to have access to charging at each end (because the Active E program forced participating dealerships to do so for Active E). Now with the launch of the i3, this is no longer the case, so REX would be an option. Though I am still hopeful that I can convince my new landlord to install a NEMA 14-50 or NEMA 6-50 port in the garage.

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  • beardedman

    We are not planning to order in time for the January 17th deadline. The timing just isn’t right for us with that date and the nebulous special Electronaut option doesn’t sound like it’s anything we’re going to care about. We will turn our ActiveE in next month and then closer to May we will make a decision… give the i3 a go or get another Volt which we know we love. We looked at build options and have picked out what we want, just not going to pull the trigger right now. At least I don’t have to convince anyone about the i3’s appearance. We both love it’s forward thinking, purpose styled shape.