BMW Confirms New "i" Sub-Brand, will Launch with i3 EV City Car and i8 Plug-in Hybrid Sports Coupe in 2013

It’s been a long time in the making, but the BMW Group today confirmed its new sub-brand called “i”, with which it will market a new lineup of eco-friendly vehicles including regular and plug-in hybrids, and pure electric models as well as an additional range of mobility services.

The first models to be launched under the new sub-brand from 2013 are the BMW i3 and i8. The BMW i3 is an all-electric city car, which was previously known as the Megacity Vehicle, while the i8, is a plug-in hybrid sports car based on the Vision EfficientDynamics concept study unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show.

BMW said both models are based on a new construction concept called LifeDrive that makes use of an aluminium chassis to house the powertrain, while the passenger cell consists of high-strength but extremely lightweight carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP). In addition, both the i3 and i8 will be manufactured at the firm’s Leipzig plant and will share the same component sets for the electric motors, power electronics, and high-voltage lithium-ion batteries.

“Both cars have been designed specifically for their respective alternative drive systems,” explains Klaus Draeger, BMW Board member responsible for development. “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.”

While BMW did not disclose further details in today’s announcement, the company recently revealed that the 1-Series ActiveE’s electric synchronous motor with 168HP (125 kW) and 250 Nm of torque will be incorporated in the i3.

As for the i8, it is likely to combine the Vision ED concept model’s 1.5-liter three-cylinder turbo diesel engine with a variant of the i3’s electric motor. We’ll remind you that the 2+2 seatd design study featured a 1.5-liter diesel engine and two electric motors for a total system output of 328 horsepower and a 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) sprint in 4.8 seconds with a combined fuel economy of 62.6 mpg US.

The BMW Group will also make use of the ‘i’ sub-brand to expand its range of mobility services. In addition to services developed in-house, the company is pursuing collaborations with partner companies.

The Bavarian automaker said that New York-based My City Way is the first company in which BMW i Ventures has taken a stake. Regarding the partnership, BMW’s Ian Robertson said, “I am thrilled to announce that we have just signed our first strategic partnership with My City Way. 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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