Grey power is giving a surprising boost to the new green car at BMW.
The electric baby i3 was intended to bring gen-Y youngsters to the car and company but early returns instead show ageing baby boomers have fallen for the trendy city car.
They have been won over by convenience - the i3 is ideal for inner-city living and short-haul work that doesn't threaten the i3's 125km range on plug-in battery power. They're also more comfortable about paying nearly $70,000 to do something positive for the planet.
BMW says the early numbers for the i3 are not as bad as they look
Even so, i3 sales - and the tally for its bigger brother, the i8 hybrid supercar - have barely troubled the scorers in Australia. It's been a similar story with other early electric arrivals, such as the awful Mitsubishi i-MiEV and Nissan Leaf. For Renault, plans to import the electric Zoe have stalled because there is zero incentive from governments for the early adopters - unlike Germany, Britain and the US, which typically give up to $15,000 in tax breaks and other incentives.
BMW says the early numbers for the i3 are not as bad as they look. A quick call to one of the i-car dealers reveals an order book with a relatively healthy 50 cars. The same outlet is approaching double digits for the i8, despite a price that puts it in Porsche 911 country.
Yet this year only 24 of the examples of the i3s have been delivered in Australia. "Sales of BMW i3 and i8 have been slightly restricted due to supply issues," says BMW Australia spokeswoman Lenore Fletcher.
"Our current tally is 24 (year-to-date) for i3 and eight for i8 but we expect that to increase with vehicles delivered in March." She declines to comment on the type of buyers but hopes that sales will increase as more cars arrive and people begin to see them on the road.
"As we indicated at launch, our goal with these BMW i vehicles is not to have high volumes." The plug-ins, she says, were to be rolling showpieces of BMW's "prowess in developing innovative technologies".