First US BMW i8 sells for £493k

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i8 auction
Chris Tedesco/BMW North America

The first BMW i8 to be sold in the US has been snapped up for $825,000 (£493,203) – some six times more than its retail price.

The car went under the hammer at a charity auction held by Gooding & Company at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance event in California, and more than quadrupled its estimate price of $200,000 (£119,550).

It's quite a premium to pay for the prestige of driving the first model in the country, as the i8 arrives in showrooms across North America this autumn, sporting a price tag of $135,700 (around £81,000).

Being the car show for the ultimate in exotica and bespoke excess, Pebble Beach was perhaps the ideal setting for the i8 auction. The model itself has been thoroughly customised, and features a bespoke 'Frozen Grey' paint finish. Inside brown leather seats are offset by electric blue stitching and seat belts.

In case the buyer ever forgets where he picked up his new motor, the words 'Concours d'Elegance' are laser etched on the dashboard, while a plaque mounted in the rear cabin bears the signatures of the BMW bods who brought the i8 from the drawing board to the road.

The car was presented to its new owner by both Ludwig Willissch, president and CEO of BMW North America, and US TV celebrity and noted car collector Jay Leno.

In the UK, the BMW i8 is available from £94,845 (including the £5,000 government EV grant). The ground-breaking model uses an electric motor and 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine for a combination of 134.5mpg fuel economy and a Porsche 911 rivaling 0-62mph sprint time of 4.4 seconds.