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Sub-brand of BMW
Industry Automotive industry
Founded 2011
Products Plug-in electric vehicles
Owner BMW
Parent BMW

The BMW i is a sub-brand of BMW founded in 2011 to design and manufacture plug-in electric vehicles.[1][2][3] The company's initial plans call for the release of two vehicles; the i3 all-electric car and the i8 plug-in hybrid. Concept versions of both these vehicles were shown at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show.[4]

Series production of the BMW i3 destined for retail customers began in September 2013,[5] and the European market launch took place in November 2013 with the first retail deliveries in Germany.[6] The BMW i8 was launched in Germany in June 2014.[7] Around 17,800 units of both i models were sold during 2014.[8] The United States and Germany are the main markets for both models.


Project i

BMW's "Project i" is a program created to develop lightweight eco-friendly urban electric car concepts designed to address the mobility and sustainability needs for people who live in megacities.[1][2] According to BMW, "Project i" has three phases. The Mini E demonstration was the first phase of this project, and it was followed by a similar field testing that began in January 2012 with the BMW ActiveE all-electric vehicle. The ActiveE is based on the BMW 1 Series Coupe and is built based on the lessons learned from the Mini E trial. The last phase of "Project i" was the development of the i3 and i8 electric cars.[1][9][10]

The automaker expects that its first series production all-electric drive vehicle will help it achieve an overall fleet fuel economy average of 6.63 L/100 km (35.5 mpg) by 2016, as mandated by U.S. federal regulations. BMW expects high volume sales of the i3 to allow the company to continue selling several of its high-performance cars with low fuel economy in the U.S.[9]

BMW i Park Lane showroom in London.

In February 2011, BMW announced a new sub-brand, BMW i, to market the vehicles produced under Project i. BMW i vehicles are to be sold separately from BMW or Mini. The first two production models are the battery electric Mega City Vehicle, now called BMW i3, and a plug-in hybrid called BMW i8, which is the production version of the Vision Efficient Dynamics concept unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show and has an all-electric range of 50 kilometres (31 mi). Production of both plug-in electric cars was scheduled to start in Leipzig in 2013.[3][11]


The first BMW i store opened in June 2012 at BMW’s London Park Lane showroom. The carmaker premiered an updated version of the BMW i3 concept electric car and unveiled its i Pedelec electric bicycle concept.[12] On November 15, 2013, retail deliveries for the i3 began with a special ceremony in Munich.[6]

Using eDrive in core-brand BMW models

On 1 December 2014, BMW announced the group is planning to offer plug-in hybrid versions of all its core-brand models using eDrive technology developed for its BMW i brand plug-in vehicles. The goal of the company is to use plug-in technology to continue offering high performance vehicles while reducing CO2 emissions below 100g/km. The carmaker is already testing a BMW 3 Series plug-in hybrid prototype.[13]


BMW i3[edit]

Main article: BMW i3

Design and technology[edit]

The BMW i3 is an electric car, BMW's first zero emissions mass-produced vehicle. The i3 is the first volume production vehicle on the market featuring carbon-fiber reinforced plastic.[14] This vehicle gets its power from an electric motor powered by lithium-ion batteries. The i3 is built for everyday use, with an all-electric range of 130 to 160 km (81 to 99 mi). BMW is offering a range extender (“REx”) option powered by a 647 cc two-cylinder gasoline engine with a 9 L (2.0 imp gal; 2.4 US gal) fuel tank that engages when the battery level drops to a pre-specified point, acting purely as a generator to produce electricity to extend the range to about 240 to 300 km (150 to 190 mi).[15]


BMW invested US$100 million to build a plant in Moses Lake, Washington to manufacture the carbon-fiber reinforced plastic used on the vehicles' body panels.[9] The plant is located in an area that has large access to hydroelectric power.[9] The carbon fiber is then shipped to Germany, where it first gets fabricated and is then shipped to the automotive production plant in Leipzig.[9]

BMW i3 badge

Markets and sales[edit]

The first i3 deliveries to retail customers in Europe took place at a the official market launch ceremony held in Munich on 15 November 2013.[16] The i3 was also launched in the UK in November 2013.[17] The release in the American market took place in May 2014.[18]

As of December 2014, global sales totaled 17,529 units, of which, 16,042 units were delivered in 2014.[8][19] The United States is the top selling market with 6,092 units sold during 2014,[20] followed by Germany with 2,563 units registered through October 2014,[21][22] and Norway with 1,815 i3s sold between November 2013 and October 2014.[23][24]

BMW i8[edit]

Main article: BMW i8
BMW i8 badge

The BMW i8 plug-in hybrid is the production version of the BMW Vision Efficient Dynamics concept unveiled at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show and has an all-electric range of 35 kilometres (22 mi). Production of both plug-in electric cars is scheduled to start in Leipzig in 2013.[3] Powering the front wheels will be an electric motor (131 hp), while the rear wheels will make use of a 1.5-litre 3-cylinder gasoline engine (231 hp).[25] Zero to 60 mph sprint timings are estimated to be less than 4.5 seconds using both power sources.[4] The positioning of the motor and engine over the axles also makes it benefit from a 50/50 weight distribution.[25]

The production version of the i8 was unveiled at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show.[26] BMW plans to sell the i8 in about 50 countries, with the U.S. expected to be the largest sales market. In Europe, the UK, Germany and France are expected to be the top markets.[27] Retail deliveries began in Germany in June 2014.[7] Deliveries to retail customers in the U.S. started in August 2014.[28]

As of December 2014, global sales totaled 1,741 i8s,[8] with the United States as the top selling market with 555 units sold through December 2014,[20] followed by Germany with 299 units registered through October 2014.[22]


Both the i3 and i8 will benefit from BMW’s Life-Drive platform which makes use of light-weight materials.[2] Both cars will come with an aluminum chassis, and in the case of the i8, the windshield, top, doors and fenders are made from polycarbonate glass, with the body having a drag coefficient of 0.26.[29]

EPA ratings[edit]

The following are the BMW i3 and i8 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ratings for all-electric range and fuel economy.

BMW i3 EPA ratings [30][31][32]
Model Year
Fuel/EV range Combined City Highway Notes
BEV 2014 81 mi (130 km) 124 mpg-e
(27 kW-hrs/100 mi)
137 mpg-e
(25 kW-hrs/100 mi)
111 mpg-e
(30 kW-hrs/100 mi)
Since May 2014 the all-electric BMW i3 is the most fuel efficient
EPA-certified vehicle of all years regardless of fuel type.[33]
REx 2014 Electricity only
72 mi (116 km)
117 mpg-e
(29 kW-hrs/100 mi)
97 mpg-e 79 mpg-e The EPA classifies the i3 REx as a series plug-in hybrid or EREV[30][32][34]
while CARB as a range-extended battery-electric vehicle (BEVx).[35]
Since June 2014 the BMW i3 REx is the most fuel efficient
EPA-certified vehicle current year vehicle with a gasoline engine.[31][33]
Gasoline only
78 mi (126 km)
39 mpg 41 mpg 37 mpg
Total: 150 mi (240 km)
BMW i8 EPA ratings [36]
BMW i8 2014 Electricity only
15 mi (24 km)
76 mpg-e
(43 kW-hrs/100 mi)
- - The i8 does not run on 100% electricity as it consumes 0.1 gallons
per 100 mi in EV mode (all-electric range = 0 mi)
Gasoline only 28 mpg 28 mpg 29 mpg



  1. ^ a b c Joe Lorio (May 2010). "Green: Rich Steinberg Interview: Electric Bimmer Man". Automobile Magazine. Retrieved 2013-02-13. 
  2. ^ a b c Phil Patton (2010-07-03). "Envisioning a Small Electric BMW for the World’s Very Big Cities". New York Times. Archived from the original on 9 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-03. 
  3. ^ a b c "BMW introduces new i sub-brand, first two vehicles i3 and i8; premium mobility services and new venture capital company". Green Car Congress. 2011-02-21. Retrieved 2011-02-21. 
  4. ^ a b Shaun Bailey (2011-09-13). "BMW i3 Concept - 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show". Road & Track. Retrieved 2011-10-02. 
  5. ^ Sebastian Blanco (2013-09-18). "BMW i3 starts production in Germany using local wind power, US carbon fiber". Autoblog Green. Retrieved 2013-09-19. 
  6. ^ a b Jay Cole (2013-11-15). "BMW Delivers First i3 Electric Vehicles In Germany Today". Retrieved 2013-11-16. 
  7. ^ a b Eric Loveday (2014-06-06). "World’s First BMW i8 Owners Take Delivery In Germany". Retrieved 2014-06-07. 
  8. ^ a b c "BMW Group sells more than 2 million vehicles in 2014" (Press release). Munich: BMW Group PressClub Global. 2015-01-09. Retrieved 2015-01-10.  A total of 16,052 i3s and 1,741 i8s were sold in 2014.
  9. ^ a b c d e Tom Murphy (2010-05-19). "Mini E Only Beginning of BMW EV Strategy". Wards Auto. Retrieved 2010-06-13. 
  10. ^ "Mini Says Half of Last Year's Mini E Lessees Renewed for Another Year". 2010-05-12. Archived from the original on 18 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-12. 
  11. ^ "BMW’s "CO2 Champion" Performance Concept is a Plug-in Diesel Hybrid; 50 km/31 mile All-Electric Range; Thermo-electric Generator for Waste Heat Recovery". Green Car Congress. 2009-08-30. Retrieved 2011-02-21. 
  12. ^ Levent Ozler (2012-06-13). "First BMW i Store Opens in London: New BMW i3 Concept and BMW i Pedelec Concept". Dexigner. Retrieved 2012-06-13. 
  13. ^ Eric Loveday (2014-12-01). "BMW Commits To Offering Plug-In Hybrid Versions Of All Core-Brand Models". Retrieved 2014-12-02. 
  14. ^ "BMW Group: Megacity Vehicle to launch in 2013". BMW (press release). 2010-04-22. Retrieved 2010-08-03. 
  15. ^ Jay Cole (2013-07-29). "BMW i3 Range Extender To Offer Up to 87 More Miles, Decreases Performance". Retrieved 2013-07-29. 
  16. ^ Jay Cole (2013-11-15). "BMW Delivers First i3 Electric Vehicles In Germany Today". Retrieved 2013-11-16. 
  17. ^ BMW Group (2013-11-06). "The new BMW i3 - Press pack". BMW Group Press Club UK. Retrieved 2013-11-07. 
  18. ^ Eric Loveday (2014-05-02). "BMW Announces Delivery Of First US i3". Retrieved 2014-05-02. 
  19. ^ Mat Gasnier (2014-07-19). "World Full Year 2013: Discover the Top 1000 best-selling models!". Best Selling Cars Blog. Retrieved 2014-07-27.  A total of 1,477 i3s were registered in 2013. Includes press fleet vehicles and dealer demonstrators.
  20. ^ a b Jeff Cobb (2015-01-06). "December 2014 Dashboard". and Baum & Associates. Retrieved 2015-01-10.  See section "December 2014 Battery Electric Car Sales Numbers"
  21. ^ Kraftfahrt-Bundesamtes (KBA) (January 2014). "Neuzulassungen von Personenkraftwagen im Dezember 2013 nach Segmenten und Modellreihen" [New registrations of passenger cars in December 2013 by segment and model series] (PDF) (in German). KBA. Retrieved 2014-05-10.  A total of 559 units were registered in Germany in 2013.
  22. ^ a b Kraftfahrt-Bundesamtes (KBA) (November 2014). "Neuzulassungen von Personenkraftwagen nach Segmenten und Modellreihen im Oktober 2014" [New registrations of passenger cars in October 2014 by segment and model] (in German). KBA. Retrieved 2014-11-09.  A total of 2,004 units were registered in Germany during the first ten months of 2014.
  23. ^ Ståle Frydenlund (2014-01-02). "7.882 nye elbiler registrert i 2013" [7882 new electric cars registered in 2013] (in Norwegian). Norsk Elbilforening (Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association). Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  24. ^ Norwegian Road Federation (OFV) (November 2014). "Bilsalget i oktober" [Car sales in October] (in Norwegian). OFV. Retrieved 2014-11-11. 
  25. ^ a b BMW Group (2013-08-07). "BMW Group presents prototype of i8 plug-in hybrid; first use of new 3-cylinder engine". Green Car Congress. Retrieved 2013-08-08. 
  26. ^ Anita Lienert (2013-08-02). "2015 BMW i8 Set for Debut at 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show". Retrieved 2013-08-06. 
  27. ^ Pia Krix (2013-08-09). "BMW sees U.S., UK, Germany as top markets for i8". Automotive News Europe. Retrieved 2013-08-11. 
  28. ^ Eric Loveday (2014-08-16). "BMW Delivers First US i8". Retrieved 2014-08-16. 
  29. ^ Hong, Patrick (2010). "Future Vision". Road & Track 61 (7): 40–45. 
  30. ^ a b United States Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy (2014-07-04). "Compare Side-by-Side: 2014 BMW i3 BEV & 2014 BMW i3 REx". Retrieved 2014-07-04. 
  31. ^ a b U. S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy (2014-07-25). "'s Top Ten EPA-Rated Fuel Sippers (1984 to present) - All Years". Retrieved 2014-07-25.  Excludes all-electric vehicles. Click on the tab "EPA Rated - All Years. The 2013-2014 Chevrolet Volt has a combined fuel economy of 62 MPG-e.
  32. ^ a b United States Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy (2014-08-20). "Model Year 2014 Fuel Economy Guide - Electric vehicles & Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (updated August 2014)" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-08-26.  pp. 33 and 36
  33. ^ a b U. S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy (2014-07-25). "Most Efficient EPA Certified Vehicles". Retrieved 2014-07-25.  Current Model Year excludes all-electric vehicles.
  34. ^ John Voelcker (2014-05-01). "2014 BMW i3 Electric Car Rated At 81 Miles, 124 MPGe: BREAKING". Green Car Reports. Retrieved 2014-05-01.  See details in EPA window sticker.
  35. ^ John Voelcker (2014-05-02). "2014 BMW i3 Range-Extended Model Gets Full $2,500 CA Rebate For Electric Cars". Green Car Reports. Retrieved 2014-05-02. 
  36. ^ U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy (2014-08-21). "2014 BMW i8". Retrieved 2014-08-22. 

External links[edit]