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BMW i

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The BMW Megacity Vehicle and the Vision EfficientDynamics concept study will be launched under new names of the BMW i3 and BMW i8, as part of a new sub-brand called BMW i.

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 drivetrains, such as electric drive systems and hybrids. BMW sees a need in ‘megacities’ for solutions which intelligently combine the benefits of various mobility concepts in a single package.

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 is based on the BMW Vision EfficientDynamics concept study. Its plug-in hybrid drive blends high-performance 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), which aims to cancel out the extra weight added by the batteries.

Both the BMW i3 and the i8 will be manufactured at BMW’s Leipzig plant. Around 400 million euros will be invested in new plant facilities and some 800 jobs will be created up to 2013. Both vehicles will use the same component sets for the electric motors, power electronics, and high-voltage lithium-ion batteries.

An additional range of mobility services – which can also be used independently of the cars – will be an integral component of BMW i. The focus is on solutions which will improve usage of existing parking spaces, as well as intelligent navigation systems with local information, intermodal route planning, and premium car-sharing.

BMW has already signed its first strategic partnership with My City Way, a mobile app that 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.