BMW Launches New Electric/Hybrid Brand

Company introduced BMW i3 electric car and the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid

BMW, on Feb. 21, unveiled its long-awaited new brand, BMW i, with two new models to be equipped with electric and hybrid drive systems from 2013.

The group is also creating a venture capital unit to offer mobility services such as car sharing and navigation systems.

"This is BMW i - Born Electric," said sales director Ian Robertson as saying as the group presented the BMW i3 electric car for city use and the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid for those seeking a more powerful vehicle.

The group added that it had created a New York-based venture capital unit to "significantly expand its range of mobility services over the years ahead," with an initial investment that is to total $100 million.

The vehicles are to be built at BMW's plant in Leipzig, eastern Germany, which will benefit from an investment of 400 million euros and create 800 jobs, the company said.

Auto analysts said the company announced little that was completely new, but were interested in BMW's marketing strategy and the combination of an electric powertrain, aluminum chassis and carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) body.

BMW said in November that it would invest more than 500 million euros with a new partner, SGL Carbon, to launch the lightweight i3 city car.

The initial roll-out is planned for 40 U.S. cities and 40 others worldwide, including BMW's home of Munich, southern Germany.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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