BMW reveals new Eco sub-brand

Time of article published Feb 21, 2011

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So you have the trendy iPod, iPad, iPhone, iThis, iThat, iUnderpants and so on, perhaps the only thing missing in your life is an iBMW?

Meet BMW's all-new sub-brand, called BMW i - and no, it's not related to any electronics company. BMW i will focus on the cream of BMW's efficiency crop when it launches overseas in 2013, the first two models being the i3 city car and i8 sports car.

BMW board member Ian Robertson explained: “BMW i offers visionary cars and services, inspiring design, and an entirely new concept of premium mobility - all with a focus on sustainability.”

To that end, the BMW i3 (which was previously previewed as the Megacity Vehicle) will be BMW's first mass-produced urban vehicle to be driven by electric power alone.

The i8 sports car, on the other hand, is formed around the Vision EfficientDynamics concept car and its plug-in hybrid drivetrain claims to combine true high performance with the efficiency and emissions of a small car.

We truly hope that the i8's drivetrain resembles that of the concept, which BMW has described as being near-production-ready. For the record, the Vision ED mates a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbodiesel to an electric motor for a system output of 265kW - and the car weighs just 1395kg!

Both the i3 and i8 are based on a high-tech construction concept known as LifeDrive architecture. An aluminium chassis houses the powertrain, and the passenger cell is made from high-strength but extremely lightweight carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP).

BMW's Klaus Draeger said: “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.”

Good news for gadget geeks is that a wide range of mobility services (which can also be used independently of the cars) will be an integral part of BMW i. This means that you can expect car-enabled mobility services, such as smart navigation systems with local information, intermodal route planning and premium car-sharing, to be available in these new BMWs - at least in 'developed' markets.

The company is also forming partnerships with other companies to keep its customers well connected, a perfect example being My City Way. This mobile application keeps you up to speed with information on parking availability, public transport and local entertainment for over 40 cities in the USA. Another 40 (as yet unnamed) cities will be part of the global rollout, according to BMW.

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