After years of planning and teasing us with Megacity this and EfficientDynamics that, BMW has finally taken the wraps off its BMW i sub brand, the German automaker’s division that will pump out plug-ins and full electric vehicles. The first two vehicles derived from the effort, the BMW i3 and i8, are slated to hit the road sometime in calendar year 2013.
We’ll let BMW AG’s Ian Robertson tell you what BMW i is all about:
“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. The products and services have been conceived around a revolutionary approach: purpose designed and purpose built for sustainable, premium mobility. It’s a new day in our industry; a new era for individual mobility. This is BMW i – Born Electric.” Robertson, BMW AG’s sales and marketing chief, said in a statement announcing the sub brand.
BMW says it has two vehicles, the BMW i3 and BMW i8, in development, and that those vehicles will launch sometime in 2013. Both of these vehicles have also been seen in various forms for a while as Project i ramped up. The i3, which was previously called Megacity, will be a small, urban-oriented vehicle that will be EV only.
The i8 will be the official name for the BMW Vision EfficientDynamics vehicle, a high-performance themed plug-in hybrid. The i8 should be more of a true BMW from a vehicle dynamics and performance standpoint, but with the emissions footprint of a small car.
Both vehicles will be underpinned by BMW’s LifeDrive architecture, what it’s billing as revolutionary construction concept. According to the automaker, an aluminium chassis houses the powertrain, and the passenger cell is constructed using carbon-fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP).
The strong, lightweight construction helps to offset the weight associated with the battery packs, which should both aid range and overall driving dynamics. Both the BMW i3 and i8 will be built at a BMW facility in Leipzig and will also share many common components.
In addition to the actual cars, BMW is spending roughly $100 million to set up a company called BMW i Ventures, which will focus on mobility services designed to enhance the overall driving experience. BMW will continue to develop its own in-house services as well as explore joint ventures. It has already acquired a stake in New York-based My City Way, which provides information on public transportation, parking availability, and local entertainment to some 40 cities in the U.S.
What do you think about BMW i? Is it the right way for the Munich to go?