BMW has shown its new i sub-brand at the Frankfurt motor show a brand created to sell an extended range of cutting-edge, purpose-built electric, hybrid and range extender-powered models.
Called i, BMW has shown an initial two model line-up, revealed in concept guise.
The line-up consists of the compact four-seat BMW i3 conceived primarily for short-range urban use and a more sporting two-plus-two BMW i8 performance flagship that progresses the ideas first hinted at by the EfficientDynamics concept car.
Further i models - including a Chevrolet Volt-rivaling notchback expected to be badged BMW i5 - are on the drawing board, but BMW’s main focus is on developing the technically advanced i3 and i8 for a planned 2013 on sale date.
As well as providing a platform for the development of its new alternative drive models, BMW is also using its new i brand as the basis for a network of personal mobility and car sharing-based activities, including a new location-based information portal and a joint venture with German rental car giant Sixt, through which the i3 and i8 will be offered.
The four-seat BMW i3, previously known under the internal working title Megacity Vehicle, is a pure electric hatchback that will be sold with the option of a petrol range-extending engine that acts as a generator to provide it with a range similar to today’s small cars.
The BMW i8, which gets a snug two-plus-two interior layout, comes with petrol-electric hybrid drive. The i3 and i8 will be assembled on a dedicated line at BMW’s Leipzig manufacturing base in Germany – the same site responsible for production of the 1 and 3-series as well as the X1.