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Friday, July 29, 2011

BMW Shows Off Electric Concept Cars [video]

BMW AG on Friday presented two concept cars for the first generation of electric vehicles to be launched under its new sub-brand i starting in 2013, and said it will invest in a company named Parkatmyhouse, which offers a service to rent out private parking space via Internet or smart-phone application.

The upcoming i3 “will mark the launch of the first volume-produced car featuring bodywork largely made of carbon,” BMW research and development chief Klaus Draeger said during a presentation in Frankfurt.

BMW didn’t elaborate on the expected annual sales volume, but Chief Financial Officer Friedrich Eichiner noted that in terms of earnings per vehicle the new cars will contribute to the company’s targeted earnings before interest and taxes margin range of between 8% and 10%. Making electric cars economically viable despite expensive components such as the battery is a key challenge for the global auto industry.

The world’s largest luxury-car maker by sales volume will initially launch two new vehicles under the new sub-brand, the BMW i3 and the BMW i8, which will be launched in 2013 and 2014, respectively, and built at BMW’s German plant in Leipzig. The i3 will be a purely electric powered car for urban areas. The i8 will be based on the plug-in hybrid sportscar concept BMW Vision EfficientDynamics.

The new sub-brand is the outcome of BMW’s Project i, a task force established in 2007 to explore future mobility concepts and one of the Munich-based firm’s most important think tanks. It is a cornerstone of BMW’s plan to expand in the field of alternative drivetrains and green technology, making cars more environmentally friendly to comply with tightening emission regulations world-wide.

In November, BMW said it will invest around €530 million and create more than 1,000 jobs, together with its joint-venture partner SGL Carbon SE, as part of its plan to launch the new megacity vehicle and start producing carbon fiber components to reduce the vehicle’s weight.
Both companies forged a U.S. joint-venture to produce carbon fiber in Moses Lake, Wash.
BMW has named SB LiMotive, a joint venture between Samsung SDI Co. Ltd. and Robert Bosch GmbH, as the battery supplier for the new car. The battery is a key component for electric vehicles as it determines the range and performance of the car.

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