10 years of BMW i: The success story of a vision

10 YEARS OF BMW I

Learn more about BMW i and its vision

10 years of BMW iLearn more about BMW i and its vision

10 years of BMW i: The success story of a vision

It all started with an idea – rethinking individual mobility holistically and sustainably. Taking it to a new level. In 2011 the BMW Group was way ahead of its time with the BMW i brand, in terms of technology, design, and sustainability, and was a trailblazer in the field of e-mobility in particular. To mark the 10-year anniversary, join us for a brief review of a special success story.

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"BMW i marks the start of a new era in individual mobility."
Ian Robertson In 2011, Manager of Marketing and Sales for the BMW Group
10 years of BMW i: The success story of a vision

February 21st 2011 saw the launch of the new BMW i brand with the motto “Born electric”. The launch was marked by video projections and light installations on the facades of BMW Headquarters, BMW Welt, and the BMW Museum in Munich, Germany. This wasn’t the beginning of electromobility at BMW, however: the BMW Group had launched "Project i" in 2008, and in 2009 it offered a look into the future of the automobile with the BMW Vision EfficientDynamics study.

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BMW i AS A HOLISTIC APPROACH

From the future to the recent past. Until ten years ago, an “i” in the name of a BMW model stood for “injection”, the injection technology for gasoline engines. Nowadays, many people associate the “i” of BMW i with the future of mobility. BMW i stands for a holistic approach to, and a forward-facing interpretation of, sustainable mobility. In its holistic approach, everything that defines mobility is being rethought: electric drive systems, CO2-minimized production that also uses 70 percent less water, 100 percent green energy in manufacturing, customer-friendly charging at home and on the go, innovative renewable raw materials and recycled materials, extremely lightweight construction using CFRP, and new digital services.

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“BMW i is our incubator for visionary mobility.”
Pieter Nota Member of the Board of Management of the BMW Group
10 years of BMW i: The success story of a vision

At the 2011 International Motor Show (IAA), BMW presented the “Megacity Vehicle”, the concept car from which the BMW i3 emerged two years later. It was the result of BMW’s wish to develop an environmentally friendly electric car for urban driving that is no heavier than a conventional car. The first BMW i vehicle hit the streets in 2013 – and it made waves. A brand new design concept met an aluminum chassis and a passenger cell made of high-strength but extremely light carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP).

 

This LifeDrive architecture is like a tailor-made suit for the alternative propulsion system, with minimum weight and maximum vehicle dynamics. Nor does the sheer driving pleasure that typifies the BMW brand get neglected when it comes to electromobility. The BMW i3 impressed, then as now, with the instant power of its electric motor and its acceleration, which caused a stir at many a set of traffic lights. The high-voltage battery ensures a range of up to 223 miles or 359 kilometres (NEDC test cycle) – plus the joy of driving.

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SUSTAINABLE IN EVERY FIBER

Another element of the holistic approach was the sustainable choice of materials – by way of example, the instrument panel cover and door panels are made of natural fibers. 80 percent of all surfaces visible to front passengers are made of recycled materials or renewable raw materials. BMW i is also thinking in that same direction when it comes to resources, so from 2021 its electric motors will use no rare earths and two-thirds less cobalt for the high-voltage batteries than originally used, while meeting the very highest social and environmental standards.

 

Initially, the BMW i3 had an optional range extender, i.e. an additional, gasoline-powered engine to increase the vehicle’s range. As the development of batteries progressed, this variant soon became surplus to requirements. And that, in its own way, brought BMW i another step closer to the goal of emissions-free mobility.

 

The BMW i3 can already be described as groundbreaking. The model has the same significance for BMW i as the 02 series had for BMW in the 1960s – it’s a milestone. The fact that the BMW i3 is still in production today speaks volumes for the concept of the car and the direction the BMW developers took back then. Not for nothing is the BMW i3 one of the best-selling premium electric cars in Europe.

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ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING MEETS SPORTS CAR

The BMW i3 was followed in 2014 by the BMW i8 as a coupé and, from 2018, as a roadster. The BMW i8 was based on the BMW Vision EfficientDynamics concept study and, with its plug-in hybrid drivetrain , combined the performance of a sports car with the consumption and emissions of a small car. Fancy a system output of 275 kW (369 hp) and driving at speeds of up to 75 mph (120 km/h) in electric mode? Well, this sporty number from BMW i offers exactly that!

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“BMW i stands for visionary automobiles, inspiring design, and a consistent focus on sustainability.”
Ian Robertson In 2011, Manager of Marketing and Sales for the BMW Group
10 years of BMW i: The success story of a vision

And the BMW i8 (like the BMW i3) also made use of high-tech materials such as carbon and aluminum. On this electric sportscar, BMW i also introduced laser headlights. So there was no field in which the BMW i8 was not ahead of its time. And that’s why it’s already a future classic now that production has ended.

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BMW i IS MORE THAN ELECTRIC

In addition to its production vehicles and its commitment to racing, BMW i has also repeatedly shown, and continues to show, concept and vision vehicles. They provide a glimpse of the immediate and near future of BMW i. Among them was the BMW i Hydrogen Next in 2019: Based on the BMW X5, the SAV wowed show-goers with a fuel cell and an electric motor as its propulsion system. This hydrogen-powered car from BMW i is scheduled to go to customers for testing purposes via small batch production in 2022.

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FULL SPEED AHEAD INTO THE FUTURE

One step further is the BMW iX3, which has since hit the streets. Since the advent of BMW i ten years ago, there has been rapid development of the charging infrastructure for electric cars. Public charging stations are popping up everywhere, and fast charging stations are being built on highways. BMW charging also offers all the services needed to charge electric cars in one package. In addition, more and more Wallboxes are being installed in residential properties on a private basis. The best conditions are therefore in place for the success of future electric cars such as the sporty BMW i4, with its striking emotional design. Or the BMW iX – originally known as the BMW Vision iNext, BMW i’s flagship for future technologies. This model brings together the interior of the future and high-end connectivity (5G) with a highly developed electric drive for the first time.

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10 years of BMW i: The success story of a vision

WHAT IS BMW i?

BMW i is a brand belonging to the BMW Group. It was launched in February 2011. All BMW electric vehicles (formerly also its partially electric vehicles) are sold under the BMW i label. The first model under the sub-brand was the BMW i3. The portfolio is constantly being expanded.

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