BMW’s upcoming i3 electric car will be priced similar to a well-equipped 3-Series sedan, which means a starting price in the low $40,000 bracket.

This is in line with previous reports that claimed BMW was targeting a low price point for the i3, with a previous estimate of $35,000 being entirely reasonable once various tax credits are factored in.

The latest information was revealed by BMW’s U.S. chief, Ludwig Willisch, who spoke recently with Automotive News (subscription required).

Willisch said i3 pricing would be finalized closer to the car’s launch at the end of the year and that BMW was still in discussions with the federal government over the eligibility of the $7,500 federal tax credit. The credit is based on battery size, which means a range-extended version of the i3 may also be eligible.

In a follow up interview with Green Car Reports, Dave Buchko, from BMW's technical and product communications team, reiterated that the i3 in its most basic form will have a price "on par with a well-equipped 3-Series"--which he noted "falls more in the $45,000 to $50,000 range."

The basic i3 will come with a five-door body and electric motor rated at 125 kilowatts (170 horsepower). On a single charge of its lithium-ion battery, owners should expect a driving range of between 80 and 100 miles.

An optional 0.65-liter two-cylinder range-extender will be available at launch, helping to increase the car’s range to 186 miles when a full tank of gas and batteries at 100 percent capacity are employed.

Owners of the i3 are also expected to be offered a preferential service from BMW that will allow them to hire (at low cost) a regular model should they wish to make a particularly long journey. Willisch said details for the service were still being ironed out.

The i3 will make its official world debut in production trim at the 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show this September, before reaching showrooms by the end of the year. It will be followed up by the i8 sports car next spring.

For our spy shots of the i3, click here, and for a spy video, click here.