Revealing its new ecological sub-brand – BMW i – the German company has also officially announced that the first vehicles to be produced under this new label will be the i3 and i8. The former will be what has already been known as the BMW Megacity all-electric citycar, and the latter will be the production version of the first BMW Vision EfficientDynamics concept. It first appeared in 2009 and should be in production by 2013 as a plug-in hybrid model.
The new i sub-brand will house a series of BMW’s first forays into hybrid, range-extender and plug-in hybrid models. They will all be built on a new platform called LifeDrive, which is being designed to balance the weight of the batteries while still trying to stay true to BMW’s dynamic driving tradition.
The BMW i platform is made up of an aluminium chassis and a carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) passenger cell. The BMW i3 will be an all-electric vehicle, which will borrow elements from the 1 Series ActiveE model, while the BMW i8 will be a hybrid model that could use the 1.5-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine and an electric motor, possibly the same as that of the i3. Pressure will be on for it to be a high performance coupé ready to excite people into the new BMW i badge.
BMW’s Leipzig plant will ready itself for production of the two vehicles with about 400 million euros in investment. The models should also prove to be fresh ground for BMW’s experimentation in on-board entertainment but although we’ll see the ConnectedDrive concept at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, there’s no news yet as to whether we’ll see updated prototypes of the i3 and i8 at the show. Watch the introductory video for the manifesto on the new sub-brand.