Tuesday, March 1, 2011

BMW ‘i' subbrand aims for 2013 launch

The BMW i3 and the i8 will be the initial models and are planned for introduction in 2013.
BMW has confirmed that the new subbrand through which it intends to market a range of advanced stand-alone hybrid, range-extended and plug-in electric models will be called BMW “i.”
Created to develop, produce and market what BMW's head of marketing, Ian Robertson, describes as “innovative solutions to premium mobility,” the brand will be supported by a company established by BMW called i Ventures, through which the German carmaker plans to grow its range of mobility services.
The i3 and the i8 will be the initial models and are planned for introduction in 2013.
“These cars have been designed specifically for their respective alternative drive systems,” said Klaus Draeger, head of BMW's R&D operations. “We're using an innovative architecture to cancel out practically all the extra weight of the batteries.”
The new architecture, which goes under the name LifeDrive, uses an aluminum chassis to house the driveline, with the passenger cell constructed from carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic developed in partnership with U.S.-based SG carbon.
The 2+2 i3, previously known under its internal working title MegaCity Vehicle, is BMW's first production model to be conceived specifically for an urban driving environment. Designed with practicality in mind, it boasts an upright one-box silhouette.
Expected to be offered on a leasing deal similar to that used for the limited-volume Mini E, the first version of the i3 will be powered by an all-electric driveline similar to that found in the 1-series ActiveE, which uses a 170-hp electric motor in combination with a lithium-ion battery pack for a claimed range of 150 miles. Other versions of the i3, including a range extender, also are under development but have yet to receive a definitive production go-ahead, according to AutoWeek's high-ranking BMW sources.
The i8, previewed by the EfficientDynamics concept car first shown in 2009, will use a hybrid driveline likely to combine BMW's upcoming 1.5-liter, three-cylinder engine, known internally as a the N38, with the same electric motor used by the i3.
Like the i3, the i8 will be produced on a dedicated line at BMW's Leipzig factory. The company has announced investment plans of $550 million for the factory, which currently produces the 1-series, the 3-series and the X1. BMW claims valuable synergies will be created through the sharing of components between the i3 and the i8, including electric motors, power electronics and lithium-ion batteries.
I Ventures has taken a stake in New York-based My City Way, which provides users--by way of a mobile app--information on public transportation, parking availability and local entertainment for more than 40 North American cities. Another 40 cities will be part of the global rollout, including BMW's base of Munich, Germany.

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