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, 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, which according to latest reports will include a sports car as well as a scooter. Speaking at BMW’s profit results meeting earlier this month, CEO Norbert Reithofer said a new family of vehicles called the Megacity 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).

"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. However, the BMW boss also stressed that the Megacity vehicles were still in the early stages, and that no decision had been taken yet on the final design or whether a new brand would be established for them.

bmw c1 pop up 001

bmw c1 pop up 001

AutoBild has now presented several sketches for some of the proposed models, revealing plans for a successor to the C1 scooter as well as a new Z2 coupe and roadster, two new minicars, a motorbike, a new van and a four-door coupe. A commonality between the models is that they will all feature RWD as standard, but some will have powertrains mounted up front and some in the rear. There will also be conventional petrol and diesel models, as well as electric and hybrid options.

The most conventional model will probably be the Z2. It will be a compact two-seater available in either coupe or roadster bodystyles, and a choice of powertrain including an all-electric option. Engineers will be targeting a kerb weight of about 1,000kg, which means it will miss out on many luxuries such as an electronic roof mechanism and air-conditioning. The Z2, like most of the Project i cars, will also employ plenty of carbon-fiber, titanium and magnesium in its construction.

The advanced construction will guarantee that the Project i cars won’t be cheap, which is why project leader Dr Ulrich Kranz previously stated that the cars will be premium. Expect to see the first of the Megacity cars, a compact minicar, launch sometime in 2012, with the Z2 and C1 successor to arrive one year later.


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