BMW has announced it will create an attention grabbing new sub-brand called 'i'. This will
feature on various forthcoming hybrid and electric vehicles produced by the prestigious
manufacturer. So, from 2013, environmentally conscious motorists will be able to choose from
the urban-focused i3, or the far speedier i8. Fair enough, I suppose, but why do these vehicles
sound as if they were named after hi-tec mobile phones?
The eagerly anticipated BMW i3, which was previously known as the MegaCity, will be
powered purely by electricity. Therefore this compact run-around will require frequent
recharging, but at this point it is unclear how this process will work. Options include utilising a
standard 13A home-based power socket, installing a more efficient in-house unit, and visiting
petrol station style recharging points. Who knows, perhaps the i3 will cope with the lot.
By contrast, the potentially speedy BMW i8 will be a more powerful hybrid machine based
on the 2009 VED super-car concept. So, this racy beast will power along courtesy of both an
electric motor and a traditional, possibly three-cylinder diesel, internal combustion engine.
Clearly there will be a lot riding on the i8, as thousands of hard-core motoring fans need
convincing that hybrid vehicles can be genuinely thrilling.
The BMW i3 and i8's construction will be inspired by the LifeDrive architecture concept. This
includes an aluminium chassis that houses the power-train, and the passenger cell will be
manufactured from high-strength carbon fibre reinforced plastic. This ultra-lightweight material
helps minimise the vehicle's mass, which subsequently reduces both traditional fuel and
electrical power consumption. Sounds good to me, roll on 2013.