New i3 and i8 models are "bookends" of BMW's new i sub-brand, which will be expanded
Mark Tisshaw
22 February 2011

BMW will expand its new ‘i’ sub-brand to offer a full range of alternatively fuelled cars, according to sales and marketing boss Ian Robertson.

Speaking with Autocar at the launch of the new sub-brand yesterday, Robertson said the i3 one-box hatchback and i8 sports car were “two bookends for the brand; in the middle there will be more books”.

“We have trademarked all the relevant names beginning with i,” he added.

Robertson refused to be drawn on the price of the i3, previously known as the MegaCity Vehicle, but said it would be offered at a premium price in a segment that includes the Nissan Leaf.

BMW has launched and tested hybrids and electric cars over the past couple of years, but R&D chief Klaus Draeger said i was being launched now as BMW would be able to market cars designed specifically with alternative powertrains in mind.

BMW launches new 'i' sub-brand - full story

Draeger also said the i8, previewed by 2009’s Vision Efficient Dynamics concept that featured a plug-in diesel-electric hybrid drivetrain, would not get a diesel engine and would instead be petrol powered “as we want to sell it all over the world. Diesel is only really relevant to Europe”.

The i8 would become BMW’s “halo” car when it is launched in 2013, added Robertson. “i8 will be a pinnacle car for the BMW brand as a whole, not just the i brand,’” he said. “BMW is about being premium, leading-edge technology and sportiness and this is a real halo product for us.”

Our Verdict

BMW i3

BMW made waves with Europe’s first premium-brand compact EV, and continued development means the i3 keeps upping the ante

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