In a move designed to highlight the company's commitment to "sustainable mobility solutions," BMW has launched a new sub-brand – BMW i. Two models based on existing concept studies will start the ball rolling under the new label from 2013. The BMW i3 will be based on the all-electric Megacity urban vehicle concept, while the BMW i8 is the planned production version of the plug-in hybrid BMW Vision EfficientDynamics sportscar shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show back in 2009.
"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, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for Sales and Marketing. "The BMW i brand comprises vehicles and services developed since 2007 as part of project i, a BMW Group think tank exploring sustainable mobility solutions. 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. There is a widespread desire in megacities for solutions which intelligently combine the benefits of various mobility concepts in a single package."
Both new models are to be built at the company's Leipzig plant. BMW says it intends to invest 400 million euros into new facilities at the plant and expects around 800 jobs to be created.
The BMW i3 and i8 will share components such as electric motors and lithium-ion batteries and will be based on BMW's "LifeDrive" architecture, which uses an aluminum chassis and carbon fiber-reinforced plastic passenger cell to counter the extra-weight added by the batteries and in-turn improve the range of the vehicles.
Mobility servicesThe new venture isn't all about selling cars. BMW has also announced an intention to expand its range of vehicle-independent "mobility services" which include intelligent systems designed to improve parking, navigation, route planning and car-sharing schemes.
These avenues will be pursued by a newly form venture capital company – BMW i Ventures – which will take a stake in service providers such as New York-based My City Way, a mobile app which delivers localized information on public transportation, parking availability and entertainment destinations.