BMW already has ‘several hundred’ advance orders for its electric i3 supermini, set to launch later this year. The carmaker’s first electric car and the first to launch under its i ‘Born Electric’ brand, the i3 has been clocking up the customer interest since BMW took it on a world tour last year, taking in Europe, the USA and Japan. Hinting at the interest in the new model, Global Sales and Marketing chief, Ian Robertson said: “We already have a lot of names and addresses even though we are still six months away from launch. Project i also has 1.2 million Facebook fans and the interest is a lot higher than we expected. Ulrich Kranz, senior vice president of BMW i, said the i3 is currently winter testing in Sweden. He added: “We are making final adjustments and everything is going very well. We are really confident and our expectations are very high.”Kranz also expects that electric cars will quickly gain popularity, overcoming range anxiety as battery technology improves and through hybrid and range-extender technology.Marketing chief Maximilian Kellner pointed out that last year 92,221 electric vehicles were sold around the world, up from just 4,669 in 2010.Board chairman Norbert Reithofer told BMW Group’s annual accounts press conference: “To have any chance of addressing the growing ecological challenges in the world’s metropolitan areas, there’s no getting around the use of zero-emission drive technology.“In the medium term, megacities have no choice but to encourage the use of alternative drive systems.”He cited cities such as London with its congestion charge and Beijing where electric vehicles are already exempt from the allocation procedure for number plates and from fees.The BMW i3 features a carbon-fibre reinforced plastic passenger compartment, an aluminium chassis which the company claims is 250-350kgs lighter than other EV passenger cars on the road.It is expected to have a driving range of around 100 miles per charge, which customers will be able to extend with an optional range extending petrol engine.