Get ready for a new kind of BMW. The German carmaker announced that it will develop a new line of fuel-efficient vehicles under the "i" sub-brand. BMW i will manufacture and market the yet-to-be-unveiled electric BMW i., which will officially be called the i3. The i8, which is the plug-in that debuted at the 2009 Frankfurt auto show, will also be produced by
These future cars appear to be on opposite ends of the electric spectrum, with the i3 being a small commuter vehicle intended for densely populated cities and the i8 being something of an exotic sports car, with the brains of Tesla matching the brawn of a Viper. Both cars will make generous use of carbon-reinforced plastics to keep the weight down and improve fuel efficiency. Although no official explanation for the naming convention was given, it's probably safe to assume that the i3 could be the starter line of BMW i, while the i8 is the fuel-efficient stepsibling to the Z8.
Purpose-built, fuel-efficient cars that use technology to take the pain out of commuting will be the focus of BMW i. The company also announced the start of BMW i Ventures, a $100 million venture fund based in New York to assist start-ups focusing on urban mobility solutions and technology, such as intermodal travel, smart parking, and communication. The fund's first investment is the New York-based MyCityWay, which develops local mobile apps providing information on public transportation, parking availability, and local entertainment for over 40 cities in the U.S. BMW i Ventures is currently accepting business plans on its Web site.