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BMW on Monday began showing off the production model of its new i3 electric compact that uses carbon-fiber materials to keep the weight down and improve driving performance.

CEO Norbert Reithofer stressed at a New York unveiling Monday that the car was designed as an electric from the ground up.

The i3 is “born electric,” he said.

The company says the i3, built in Leipzig, Germany, will go from zero to 62 mph in 7.2 seconds. Its range is billed as 80 to 100 miles. Models with an optional range extender gas engine can go as far as 200 miles.

The car goes on sale in November in Germany and other European markets starting at $46,000 and reaches the United States, Japan and China next year.

“I’m very optimistic on China in principle because China is a market for e-mobility,” said Harald Krueger, BMW’s production chief. “China will be like the U.S., one of the core markets” for electric cars, he said.

Demand for electric vehicles in China has struggled to catch on because of issues including high cost, lack of charging stations and range anxiety.

The government has yet to renew the purchase incentives for individual buyers after they lapsed at the end of last year.

The i3 is targeted at families and commuters, Krueger said.

In 2011, BMW and a European carbon-manufacturing company opened a plant in Moses Lake in Eastern Washington to produce carbon fibers for the automotive industry.

The SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers plant
is a $100 million partnership of BMW and SGL Group, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of carbon-based products. SGL said it picked Moses Lake because of the region’s inexpensive hydropower and Washington state’s renewable-energy efforts.

Material from The Seattle Times archives is included in this story.