BMW have today launched the new i-brand, where ‘i’ represents innovation and sustainability acting as the umbrella for all of BMW’s near-term electric vehicles. BMW have pointed out that ‘i’ stands in line with the existing ‘///M’ sub-brand, and will have the same independence and autonomy to develop its products.

A new logo was shown as well as changes to the use of the parent company BMW logo when used on i-brand vehicles. The iconic kidney grill of BMW i vehicles will be coloured blue and the BMW logo will be surrounded by a blue ring.

[blockquote type=”blockquote_quotes” align=”right”]BMW i offers visionary cars and services, inspiring design, and an entirely new concept of premium mobility – all with a focus on sustainability.[/blockquote]

Two models will be launched under the new sub-brand from 2013 – the first vehicle will be the ‘i3’ known previously by the project name MegaCity, which is intended as a premium mobility solution for city dwellers. The i3 will be joined by the ‘i8’, which until now has been known as the Vision EfficientDynamics Concept.

Both vehicles will be built at the Leipzig plant which will become the centre of excellence within the group for its lightweight, high-sustainability solutions. Around 400 million euros will be invested in new plant facilities and some 800 jobs will be created up to 2013. Using the widespread deployment of carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) the additional weight of the vehicles batteries will be offset by much lighter body shells, which is expected to save as much as 300kg per vehicle.

“BMW i offers visionary cars and services, inspiring design, and an entirely new concept of premium mobility – all with a focus on sustainability”, explained 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.

Revolutionary new concepts

“With BMW i, we are building on the success and strength of our core brand,” emphasised Robertson. The BMW i3– previously known as the Megacity Vehicle – will be the BMW Group’s first series-produced car for urban areas to be driven by electric power alone. The BMW i8, meanwhile, is based on the BMW Vision EfficientDynamics concept study. Its plug-in hybrid drive blends the sporting ability of a high-performance machine with the fuel consumption and emissions of a small car.

Both models are based on a revolutionary construction concept known as LifeDrive architecture. An aluminium chassis houses the powertrain, and the passenger cell consists of high-strength but extremely lightweight carbon fibre-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,” explains Klaus Draeger, BMW Board member responsible for development.

BMW Mobility Services

An additional range of mobility services – which can also be used independently of the cars – will be an integral component of BMW i. This will allow the creation of a new, profitable area of business over the long term and attract new customers to the company’s brands. In addition to services developed in-house, the BMW Group is pursuing collaborations with partner companies and exploring strategic capital investments in providers of mobility services.

BMW used the press conference to announce a brand new innovation to foster new mobility solutions from outside the BMW Group of companies. To achieve this, a Venture Capital company has been founded in New York City, BMW i Ventures, with an investment totalling up to 100 million US dollars.

The company has chosen its first investment, My City Way, which it will support and develop helping create city-specific Apps that exploit the benefits of localisation. 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 BMW’s home city of Munich.

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