As per yesterday’s announcement, BMW has launched a new sub-brand, kind of like what the smart city car brand is to Mercedes-Benz. The new brand, simply called BMW i, will debut with two new models: the BMW i3 and the BMW i8.
The BMW i3 will be, as predicted, based on the BMW MegaCity Concept car. This will be a compact car using an all-electric powertrain. BMW is yet to release specific details of the electric motor and hasn’t confirmed if it will be similar to the BMW 1 Series ActiveE powertrain, but the company has confirmed the new model will be built using an extremely lightweight design process.
As previously believed, the BMW i3 or MegaCity will adopt LifeDrive architecture. This means the foundations of the car – the chassis and transmission tunnel – will be made from high-strength aluminium. Meanwhile, the body and cabin structure will be made from high-strength, lightweight carbon fibre reinforced plastic, allowing the i3 to counter-balance the added weight of the electric motor’s batteries.
The BMW i8 will be a production version of the BMW Vision EfficientDynamics Concept, as previously reported. The car will adopt the same LifeDrive architecture and will be made with a serious focus on being lightweight. The body will include carbon fibre and the chassis foundations will be made from aluminium like the BMW i3. The main difference between the BMW i3 and BMW i8 will be the overall size, market segments and powertrains. The larger BMW i8 will offer plug-in hybrid technology, uniting petrol and electric power into one package.
Both of the new cars will be built at BMW’s Leipzig plant in Germany thanks to a 400 million euro ($543 million) investment, including the announcement of 800 new jobs. The cars are set to hit the market some time in 2013.
BMW spokesman, Ian Robertson, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG for Sales and Marketing, summed up the new brand in a recent statement, saying,
“BMW i offers visionary cars and services, inspiring design, and an entirely new concept of premium mobility – all with a focus on sustainability.”