When it comes to electric vehicles, BMW is considered a first-move. BMW’s i brand was launched in 2014 as part of the auto maker’s efforts to address growing interest in electric vehicles.
The move came after Tesla’s Model S’s 2012 debut, costing as much as premium Mercedes luxury sedans, surprised the industry with rapid success with buyers and traditional auto enthusiasts. The i8 plug-in hybrid, with a $140,700 base price, was aimed at the high-end to attract attention for the brand while the compact, battery-electric i3, starting at $42,400, was to appeal to more mainstream buyers in big cities.
Sales didn’t take off. In the U.S., for example, BMW sold 391 i3 cars last month, a 77% decline from a year ago, according to Autodata Corp., which tracks sales.
Globally, it sold about 25,000 of the i3 last year. Mr. Krüger said the company should sell a total of about 60,000 electric vehicles this year, including plug-in hybrids.
Tesla, by contrast, is on track to build 80,000 electric SUVs and sedans and aims for 500,000 by 2018. The Tesla Model 3, which will aim at the popular BMW 3-Series, is “not a threat,” Mr. Krüger said. “We welcome competition.”