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BMW enters The Age of Electric Autos with BMW i

BMW is testing the Electric Mini and the ActiveE BMW as a prelude to their new sub-brand BMW i. The lower case “i” is a portent of the decade of unprecendented “innovation” we are now entering as well as BMW's “intention” to be among the leaders of this evolution.
Posted: February 21, 2011 - 6:39PM
Author: Don Bain

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"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." said Ian Robertson, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for Sales and Marketing, in Munich today.

Next year the new company plans to release two vehicles in this new line designated the BMW i3 and BMW i8. In order to expand their range of mobility services, such as telematic applications, BMW has made a $100 million investment in a New York based venture capital company named BMW i Ventures.

“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. “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.”

The BMW i3 will be the first vehicle to emerge from the research into the Megacity Vehicle (MCV), which Torque News revealed in our article on the BMW ActiveE 10 days ago.

The BMW i8 will be a plug-in hybrid, that seeks to maximize efficiency while preserving the performance and feel of a traditional sports car.

The company calls their new approach to vehicle configuration LifeDrive architecture, in which an aluminium chassis houses the powertrain, and the interior cabin is formed from 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," explained Klaus Draeger, BMW Board member responsible for development.

The company plans to develop new mobility services as a way to not only increase the desirability of their vehicles, but also to adapt to a rapidly changing world of technology.

"Mobility requirements are changing in rapidly expanding megacities," added 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."

These systems are intended to make the best use of existing parking spaces, as well as local information in navigation systems with route planning that includes Park N Rides, public transport and premium car-sharing.

One of the first examples of this corporate symbiosis is the announced partnershiop with My City Way in New York.

"I am thrilled to announce that we have just signed our first strategic partnership with My City Way,” Robertson concluded. “As a mobile app, My City Way provides users with information on public transportation, parking availability, and local entertainment for over 40 cities in the US. Another 40 cities will be part of the global rollout, including Munich, of course.”

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