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Type Sub-brand of BMW
Industry Automotive industry
Founded 2011
Products Plug-in electric vehicles
Owner(s) 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 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.[7] On November 15, 2013, retail deliveries for the i3 began with a special ceremony in Munich.[6]


BMW i Park Lane showroom in London.

BMW i3[edit]

Main article: BMW i3

Design and Technology[edit]

The BMW i3 is BMW's first zero emissions mass-produced vehicle, and the i3 is the first volume production vehicle on the market featuring carbon-fiber reinforced plastic.[8] 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).[9]


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.[10] The plant is located in an area that has large access to hydroelectric power.[10] The carbon fiber is then shipped to Germany, where it first gets fabricated and is then shipped to the automotive production plant in Leipzig.[10]

BMW i8[edit]

Main article: BMW i8

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).[11] 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.[11]

The production version of the i8 was unveiled at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show.[12] 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.[13] Deliveries are scheduled to begin in the U.S. in the second quarter of 2014.[14]


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.[15]



  1. ^ Joe Lorio (May 2010). "Green: Rich Steinberg Interview: Electric Bimmer Man". Automobile Magazine. Retrieved 2013-02-13. 
  2. ^ a b 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 "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. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ "BMW Group: Megacity Vehicle to launch in 2013". BMW (press release). 2010-04-22. Retrieved 2010-08-03. 
  9. ^ Jay Cole (2013-07-29). "BMW i3 Range Extender To Offer Up to 87 More Miles, Decreases Performance". Retrieved 2013-07-29. 
  10. ^ a b c Tom Murphy (2010-05-19). "Mini E Only Beginning of BMW EV Strategy". Wards Auto. Retrieved 2010-06-13. 
  11. ^ 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. 
  12. ^ Anita Lienert (2013-08-02). "2015 BMW i8 Set for Debut at 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show". Retrieved 2013-08-06. 
  13. ^ Pia Krix (2013-08-09). "BMW sees U.S., UK, Germany as top markets for i8". Automotive News Europe. Retrieved 2013-08-11. 
  14. ^ BMW Group (2013-09-10). "BMW unveils production i8 plug-in hybrid; 94 mpg; on sale in US in 2014 priced from $135,925" (Press release). Green Car Congress. Retrieved 2013-09-10. 
  15. ^ Hong, Patrick (2010). "Future Vision". Road & Track 61 (7): 40–45. 

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