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BMW says demand for i8 hybrid outstrips initial production run

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[March 11, 2014]  FRANKFURT (Reuters)  Germany's BMW <BMWG.DE> said it saw strong demand for the i8 hybrid sportscar which will go into series production in April and start customer deliveries in June.

"Demand for the BMW i8 is already exceeding the planned production volume during ramp-up," BMW said in a statement on Monday, without giving a more specific figure for how many cars will be made during this phase.

Green cars, and electric vehicles in particular remain a niche product, because their limited vehicle range limits their use when compared with gasoline or diesel-powered cars.

Market leader Nissan <7201.T>, Toyota <7203.T>, General Motors <GM.N> and VW's <VOWG_p.DE> Audi have trimmed electric-car plans or have had to offer aggressive pricing to spur their middling sales.

To give the carbon fiber car an operating range of up to 600 kilometers (373 miles), the 362-horsepower i8 is powered by a hybrid system.

This combines a 96 kilowatt electric motor driving the front wheels, and a turbo charged 231-horsepower three-cylinder petrol engine.

(Reporting by Edward Taylor; editing by Louise Heavens)

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