BMW unveils new electric/hybrid brand

22 Feb 2011

BMW has finally revealed its long-anticipated new brand, BMW i, with two new models that will be equipped with electric and hybrid drive systems from 2013.

The BMW i3 electric car is designed for city use and the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid is aimed for those seeking a more powerful vehicle. The BMW i brand comprises vehicles and services developed since 2007 as part of project i.

“BMW i offers visionary cars and services, inspiring design, and an entirely new concept of premium mobility – all with a focus on sustainability,” said Ian Robertson, sales director.

BMW said it had also created a venture capital company based in New York to increase its range of mobility services, with an initial investment to total €73m. The group plans to build the vehicles at BMW’s plant in Leipzig, eastern Germany.

BMWi and My City Way partnership

The group has also announced it has signed its first BMW i partnership with New York-based My City Way.

“As a mobile app, My City Way provides users with information on public transportation, parking availability and local entertainment for over 40 cities in the US. Another 40 cities will be part of the global rollout, including Munich, of course.” Robertson said.

The two models are based on a construction concept BMW names as ‘LifeDrive’ architecture. An aluminium chassis houses the powertrain, and the passenger cell consists of high-strength but lightweight carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP).

Klaus Draeger, the BMW board member who was responsible for the development, said both cars have been designed specifically for their respective alternative drive systems.

“We used the innovative architecture and CFRP to cancel out practically all of the extra weight added by the batteries. For our customers this means superior driving dynamics combined with significantly increased range using electric power.”

In November, BMW said it planned to invest more than €500m and create more than 1,000 jobs with a new partner, SGL Carbon, to launch the city car with carbon fibres to reduce weight. The vehicles will also have an aluminium chassis.

As of Tuesday, a giant poster at the Munich Opera house and on other squares around the city of Munich will present the world of BMW i to the public. A new website is dedicated to the BMW i, which demonstrates the visionary and sustainable approach of the new brand.