• BMW says i3 will start at $42,000 with shipping
  • BMW i3 goes on sale in mid-2014
  • Offers fully electric drivetrain with no gasoline engine

BMW's all-electric i3 hatchback will start around $42,000 when it goes on sale in mid-2014. That's the latest from the automaker, which is slowly releasing i3-related updates as the model gets closer to going on sale.

According to BMW, the i3's official base price is $41,350 before shipping. With destination, pricing will likely climb above $42,000. That's not pricey by usual BMW standards -- but then, the i3 is no regular BMW. Instead, it's a 5-door, fully electric hatchback that will help launch BMW's new fuel-efficient "i" sub-brand. Other "i" models, such as the i8 sports car, will follow closely behind.

Of course, the i3's base price is quoted without any options. Shoppers will likely be able to choose from many extras, including one that BMW has confirmed: an available DC Fast Charge system. The "fast charger" can bring an electric vehicle (EV) battery from depleted to 80 percent charged in just 20 minutes. A similar option in Chevrolet's new Spark EV is priced from $750.

With its $42,000 base price, the i3 is priced to compete with most of today's electric vehicles. The plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt, for example, starts around $40,000 with shipping. And the Ford Focus Electric is just over $40,000, although recent price cuts have taken it down to $36,000 with shipping for the 2014 model year. State, federal and local tax incentives mean most of these all-electric cars end up costing the average consumer even less. 

But the i3 can offer one item that few competitors can match: a premium-brand name. Most EVs -- such as the Nissan LEAF, Honda Fit EV, and others -- don't offer luxury-brand status. Only a few other electric models, such as the upcoming Cadillac ELR plug-in hybrid, can boast premium-brand cachet. That may help the i3 earn sales from luxury-minded drivers interested in an electric vehicle.

With base pricing known, the only remaining questions about the i3 relate to cost of options and styling. BMW has shown teaser images and officially revealed the final i3 today, July 29, 2013.

What it means to you: The BMW i3 looks to add premium-brand flair to electric vehicles for a reasonable price.

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Doug DeMuro has a wide range of automotive industry experience, from work at a Ferrari dealership to a manager for Porsche North America. A lifelong car enthusiast, Doug's eclectic vehicle purchases include a Porsche 911 Turbo, an E63 AMG wagon, an old Range Rover and a Mercedes Benz G-wagen.

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