The high-end U.S. electric car market will soon have another big competitor.

BMW is getting ready to roll out its brand new i3 all-electric vehicle in May, and with a price tag that’s nearly $30,000 less than Tesla’s Model S, it has the potential to be an industry game changer.

“We’re really excited because we’re the only player in the small premium segment that’s currently offering a product like us.” says Jose Guerrero, BMW i Product Manager. “We’re targeting anyone who has been looking at a premium vehicle but hasn’t has the opportunity to get one, especially an electric vehicle.”

The BMW i3 retails for $41,350 before federal tax and incentives.  

The BMW i3’s exterior distinguishes the model from its battery powered peers.  
“It’s the first mass produced carbon fiber reinforced vehicle in the market,” says Guerrero.

The use of carbon fiber enabled BMW to integrate rear coach doors into the i3 model. Carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) roof panel is made partially with recycled CFRP from the manufacturing process of other components and one-quarter of the plastic used in the interior of the car is comprised of recycled materials. The i3 also features a dashboard made from eucalyptus and seats dyed with olive leaf extract.

And as BMW enters the green-car market, it’s focused on fuel efficiency and easing concern over limited range.  

“To address range anxiety we have a unique one pedal driving that gets 20-30% of brake  energy recuperation,” says Guerrero.  “As you’re driving the car is slowing down and using the momentum to generate more energy for the battery.”  

The BMW i3 will travel 80 to 100 miles on a single charge.  For those looking for greater  distance, BMW is also offering a gasoline-powered Range Extender model with a starting price of $45,200.  The model includes a two-cylinder, gasoline powered generator that approximately doubles the vehicle’s range.

BMW says it has already received about 11,000 orders for the i3 worldwide, and is already raising its sales target before the i3 hits showroom floors in the U.S. in May.   

“We’re no longer in the hundreds of units market; we’re now in the thousands,” says Guerrero. “This is just like a normal production car.  We’re targeting for the thousands of units not only in the U.S. but worldwide.”

Sandra Smith joined FOX Business Network (FBN) as a reporter in October 2007.