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BMW Launches "i" Line for Range of Alternative-Fuel Vehicles

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On: Thu, Feb 24, 2011 at 2:50PM | By: Chris Weiss

BMW Launches "i" Line for Range of Alternative-Fuel Vehicles

Can't say we didn't see it coming, but now it's official: BMW has rolled its Project i into an official "i" brand, which will comprise electric vehicles, hybrids, and other alternatively-fueled vehicles, like the Vision EfficientDynamics (i8). If BMW plays its cards right, its lowercase i may supplant Apple's (iPod, iPhone, iPad) as the epitome of technologically advanced, consumer-friendly design. But it'll take a lot to topple the big Mac.

BMW will debut the i sub-brand with two cars at the opposite ends of the spectrum: the i3 and the i8. Those two cars are planned for 2013 launch.

Essentially the production version of the Vision EfficientDynamics concept launched at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, the i8 will be a high-end sports plug-in. As a concept, it was a diesel-electric, but in production it will get a gas engine to extend its appeal to the global market. It's expected to feature an electric motor and a new, 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine. The combination should put out upwards of 300 hp.

BMW sales and marketing chief Ian Robertson said of the i8: "i8 will be a pinnacle car for the BMW brand as a whole, not just the i brand. BMW is about being premium, leading-edge technology and sportiness, and this is a real halo product for us."

The i3, on the other hand, will be at the entry end of the i brand. It will be a compact urban commuter based on the MegaCity Vehicle. It's an all-electric car that will share its motor with the i8. Under lithium-ion power, the i3 should offer drivers about 100 miles of range.

Though those are the only two cars BMW has mentioned specifically, the company plans a full line of models in between those two. According to reports, Bimmer has already trademarked the gamut of i-based names.

I'm thankful to BMW for making its new official production line far quicker to write than its concept badges. "i8" will roll off the fingertips far more willingly than "Vision EfficientDynamics."

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