BMW details 'i' concept cars for Frankfurt Motor Show
By Greg Kable
BMW is attempting to seize the alternative-drive initiative from luxury rivals by creating a new subbrand, under which it plans to sell a range of purpose-built electric, hybrid and range-extended models.
The company is planning to take its new subbrand, called BMW “i,” public in September at the Frankfurt Motor Show, where an initial two-model lineup consisting of the diminutive i3 and a larger, more sporting two-plus-two i8 will be revealed in concept guise for the first time.
Additional “i” models, including a Chevrolet Volt-rivaling hatchback expected to be badged the i5, are on the drawing board. But BMW's focus at this early stage is on developing the technically advanced i3 and i8 to meet a planned 2013 on-sale date.
Along with providing a platform for the development of its future alternative-drive models, BMW is also using the “i” brand as the basis for a network of personal-mobility and car-sharing activities, including a joint venture with German rental-car giant Sixt, through which the i3 and i8 will be offered.
All of the “i” cars will feature cutting-edge construction that will see the BMW bring carbon fiber into mass production for the first time as part of a broader program that also aims to benefit its more traditional models. The i3, previously known under the internal working title Megacity Vehicle, is a pure-electric hatchback that will be sold with the option of a gasoline engine that acts as a generator to provide it with a range similar to that of today's small cars.
The i8, which gets a snug 2+2 interior layout, comes with gasoline-electric hybrid drive.
Content provided by AutoWeek.
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