BMW today announced a new EV (electric vehicle) model, the i3, which will be launched under its new “i” sub-brand as a 2013 model alongside the hybrid BMW i8.
“With BMW i, we are building on the success and strength of our core brand,” emphasised Ian Robertson, the member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for Sales and Marketing. The BMW i3– previously known as the Megacity Vehicle – will be the BMW Group’s first series-produced car for urban areas to be driven by electric power alone. The BMW i8, meanwhile, is based on the BMW Vision EfficientDynamics concept study. Its plug-in hybrid drive blends the sporting ability of a high-performance machine with the fuel consumption and emissions of a small car.
According to BMW, the sub-brand will be focused on developing sustainable mobility solutions. “BMW i represents a new movement in premium mobility. With the introduction of this new sub-brand, the BMW Group reaffirms its leadership as the most innovative and sustainable premium car company,” said Robertson.
“BMW i offers visionary cars and services, inspiring design, and an entirely new concept of premium mobility – all with a focus on sustainability”, explained Robertson. According to the company, it is the BMW Group’s response to changing customer needs, including increasing demand for alternative drive trains, such as electric drive systems and hybrids.
BMW operates the BMW Group Technology Office in Palo Alto to be better able to connect with companies here in the area that offer the types of mobility services mentioned in the announcement.
Both models are based on a revolutionary construction concept known as LifeDrive architecture. An aluminium chassis houses the powertrain, and the passenger cell consists of high-strength but extremely lightweight carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP). “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,” explains Klaus Draeger, the BMW Board member responsible for development.
“Mobility requirements are changing in rapidly expanding megacities” adds Ian Robertson. “Our commitment to car-enabled mobility services, like BMW ConnectedDrive, will be significantly expanded under BMW i. We’ll also grow our car-related premium mobility services. What’s truly groundbreaking is that we’ll begin offering car-independent premium mobility services. BMW i aims to provide customized mobility solutions across a seamless network of premium products and premium services.” The focus is on solutions which will improve usage of existing parking spaces, as well as intelligent navigation systems with local information, intermodal route planning, and premium car-sharing.
The entry of BMW into the EV (electric vehicle) marketing will raise the stakes in the segment for Palo Alto-based Tesla Motors, the Silicon Valley’s only automaker. Tesla is converting a portion of the shuttered NUMMI factory in Fremont to build its premium Model S EV sedan.