BMW has launched a new sub-brand which focuses on developing the electric vehicle sustainable individual mobility solutions.
The German premium carmaker believes BMW i represents a new movement in premium level mobility and it will arrive in two years. In other words, this sub-brand will provide the focus for BMW to develop and sell advanced hybrids, plug-in electric cars that expand the driving range.
Currently about 95 per cent of BMW sales go to CO2 regulated markets. That is why we have seen their success to date with 'efficient dynamics', where they have optimised their existing car range. We are also experiencing the next phase - 'active hybrids' - due to arrive later this year.
The fourth phase is much further away - it is 'hydrogen' fueled cars. But the demands of a widespread infrastructure for refueling and safety will require large investment over the next 10 years.
In the meantime, with the introduction of this new sub-brand, the BMW Group claims to reaffirm its leadership as the most innovative and sustainable premium car company.
In a first move two models will be launched under the new sub-brand from 2013 – the BMW i3 and BMW i8. The BMW Group will also significantly expand its range of mobility services over the years ahead.
The BMW i brand comprises vehicles and services developed since 2007 as part of project i, a BMW Group think tank. It is the BMW Group’s response to changing customer needs, including increasing demand for alternative drivetrains, such as electric drive systems and hybrids.
The BMW i3 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 efficient dynamics concept study. Its plug-in hybrid drive blends the sporting ability of a high-performance machine (about 255bhp ) with the fuel consumption and emissions of a small car.
The plug-in facility will allow an electric charge to travel 50km without needing to use the engine. Further functionality is demonstrated by a boot large enough to take two sets of golf clubs.
The i8 will have a small three-cylinder diesel engine, smaller than a 1.6-litre. It will also have an electric motor on the rear axle and another one on the front. Add up the combined horse power and it will come to circa 355bhp. But all this power does not come with a high running cost - it could be similar to a Toyota Prius, with further green credentials of less than 100g/km CO2, which means the lower VRT and road tax.
However with the cost of developing the technology and the state-of-the-art design and construction, the price-tag will not be low.
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 fibre-reinforced plastic.
“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, BMW board member responsible for development.
BMW also plans an additional range of mobility services, which can also be used independently of the cars. It will be an integral component of BMW i, designed to attract new customers to the company’s brands.