Report: First BMW Project i car coming in 2012

“What’s wrong here? You like working with us. You appreciate your job. But you drive a vehicle from a competitor?”

“What’s wrong here? You like working with us. You appreciate your job. But you drive a vehicle from a competitor?”

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In March of 2008 BMW first announced plans to establish a new research division called ‘Project i,’ whose task would be to develop a number of solutions for a vehicle designed for congested city motoring. The goal of Project i was never to exclusively develop one type of vehicle or another, but to come up with a range of technologies BMW could introduce across its fleet or even under a rumored fourth brand.

Now, more than a year down the track, Project i is in full swing and is already spawning its first products. The first development of Project i is the recently launched Mini-E, which BMW will use to gather feedback about what urban customers want and need from a zero-emissions vehicle.

Over the next couple of years BMW will launch a range of near-zero emission vehicles. A new family of vehicles under the Megacity heading will be the second specific platform to come out of Project i and will include both all-electric models as well as high efficiency combustion engines (i.e. compact turbocharged diesel and petrol units).

The first of these will reportedly be a compact hatch that will be smaller and cheaper than the 1-series and Mini Cooper. BMW plans to switch its focus from expensive niche products like the stillborn X7 fullsize SUV and a new super-sports car model to higher volume eco-friendly vehicles.

Speaking with Car and Driver, BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer said the first Project i car will be a three door hatch designed specifically for the U.S. market to meet California’s Zero-Emission-Vehicle (ZEV) requirements that call for large-volume automakers to sell ZEVs by 2012.

"With the Megacity vehicles we are pursuing a radical approach toward establishing a truly sustainable value chain - from development to production and sales,” he said. The car will be able to seat up to four adults and will be powered by an electric motor running on water-cooled lithium-ion batteries. Styling will be BMW-like, with short overhangs, a wide track, and a low roofline. The new car will be a global model and other versions, both petrol and diesel, will eventually be available.

After that the possibilities are endless. There are reports that BMW’s Project i division will eventually launch a new Z2 Roadster, a motorbike, and even a successor to the original C1 scooter.
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Comments (2)
  1. "die zeit" isn't daily^^

  2. I just lost my whole thesis on electricity when I accidently pressed the search button, so, allow me to recap…
    I think BMW ows a nod to the Isetta name. Afterall, the little three wheeler did drag them out of the ashes once.
    (And something about…) BMW will remain an automotive force for decades to come duo to their hydrogen and electricity vehicle research.

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