We’re here reporting live from the international revealing of the new BMW i3 and i8 concepts at the Frankfurt Messe. BMW revealed the two cars in a dark hall, and while waiting for the press conference to start, the disguised i8 prototype that we’ve seen before in the past drove past us on the main stage, in complete eerie silence that made me do a double take and wonder if I had really seen a car go past, or was it some funky 3D projection.

The BMW i family consists of only two cars at the moment – the i3 and the i8. The i3 is immediately recognisable as one of those city cars that seem to be such a popular idea these days – light, compact, fuel efficient, easy to park, seats four and has some kind of luggage area – 250 litres in this case. The i3 promises to travel up to 250 km on a single charge. We’ll get more in depth with the technicalities of the car in a future story.

At the top of the range is the BMW i8 Concept, a 2+2 sports car that has evolved through the times since it was first unveiled in 2009 as the BMW Vision EfficientDynamics Concept. Like the 2009 concept, the car continues to be powered by both an electric motor and a combustion engine, now a 220 hp, 300 Nm 3-cylinder petrol instead of a turbodiesel.

BMW refers to these cars as part of the BMW i family, which is quite small at the moment – just two members. But like BMW’s regular series production cars which range from a 1 all the way up to a 7, not to mention all the X models, the company says there’s definitely room for new members to be introduced in the future.

The first production i cars will go on sale at the end of 2013. BMW won’t reveal any sales targets at the moment – they say that it will depend on how the market will be at the time of launch. But they must have some kind of internal target, as it says the cars will be profitable and will contribute to the company’s finances from the very beginning, and the R&D costs it took to develop these cars must be amortised.

Initially, these cars will be more appropriate for high density urban areas, thus BMW will be targeting these markets. Major cities will definitely be in the picture. A lot of these potential markets will be driven by regulations – for example London city’s congestion charges will make EVs like the BMW i3 make commercial sense.

Will these cars ever be available in Malaysia? According to a BMW Malaysia spokesperson, an introduction is definitely possible if there is a strong business case for it. But it is still too early to say at the moment, because of various factors such as the infrastructure to support EVs, consumer education and government policies.

Will Malaysia be ready for something like this by end 2013?

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