Sunday, November 20, 2011

BMW i: the new electric car sub-brand launched

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BMW i: the new electric car sub-brand launched

By Mark Hamilton
First Official Pictures
21 February 2011 14:19
I spy something... beginning with i. That'll be the name for BMW's new sub-brand for its forthcoming electric vehicles (both pure EV and hybrid), announced today.
Think of i as BMW M - a sub brand for the internet-savvy, eco-conscious, city-dwelling new premium car buyer. BMW's new sub-brand was launched with a live-streaming web conference from the BMW Welt complex in Munich on 21 February 2011.

BMW i: the new BMW sub-brand

As with the M-cars that BMW traditionalists know and love, BMW i will produce i-cars.  If you're sensing a lawsuit from Apple's i-fixated management, then remember that BMW has previous form in this area, with the once-controversial i-drive multimedia interface system, introduced with the E65 7-series (think Bangled-bimmer Mk. 1) in 2002. 
The new sub-brand will feature a specific i logo, the new cut-out stylised letter i pictured here. There will be a blue graphic in place of the double-kidney grille, which is no longer required for airflow. It's telling that EVs will still - stylistically at least - hark back to the internal combustion age. 
Other brand identifiers? The BMW roundel features an additional blue ring around the perimeter to signify the i sub-brand. A halo for the new brand?

Meet the first BMW i-cars: BMW i3 and i8

The i3 is the name for the the production Mega City Vehicle, due in 2013. It's a small EV hatchback featuring the LifeDrive architechture.  Think aluminium chassis mated to a carbon-fibre passenger cell.  The use of lightweight materials is designed to mitigate the weight of battery packs in the alternative powertrains of the new i-cars. The i8 is a production sports car in the mould of the Vision Efficient Dynamics concept car, and features an evolution of that vehicle's hybrid powertrain. Both vehicles have been teased in concept sketches shown here. Design chief Adrian van Hooydonk introduced the new design philosophy, which emphasises aerodynamics, light weight and the new 'streamflow' c-pillar, as shown on the Vision EfficientDynamics concept.  But details remain literally sketchy until closer to the release of the vehicles.
BMW is investing 400 million Euros in its Leipzig plant to make it home of the i3 and i8 with 800 new jobs to be created as the plant ramps-up to the 2013 on-sale date. 

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