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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