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Frankfurt show: BMW ponders car between i3, i8

i herald: The BMW i8 plug-in supercar could one day have a range of smaller sub-brand siblings beyond the i3.

BMW considers gamut between i1 and i9 as part of electric vehicle rollout

BMW logo11 Sep 2013

By MIKE COSTELLO in Frankfurt

BMW has trademarked the monikers ‘i1’ through to ‘i9’ as the company evaluates the next step for its new electric vehicle sub-brand.

The company has launched the production version of its126,000 euro i8 plug-in supercar at this week’s Frankfurt motor show, and recently revealed its circa-30,000 euro i3 electric hatch. The latter will arrive in Australia in 2014.

Planning, steering and communications manager from BMW’s electric sub-brand, Manuel Settig, said the company was looking at how and where to fill the big price gap between its too existing offerings.

“There are so many ideas around that. We’re discussing a lot of things between i3 and i8, but we haven’t decided yet,” he told media in Frankfurt.

Mr Settig said the decision to bookmark the range the way it has made sense, with current limited battery technology making a city-focused pure EV such as the i3 the most viable option, and the i8 plug-in supercar giving brand a notable halo.

Both, he said, were perfect recipients for BMW’s lightweighting technology - lots of carbon-fibre produced in large quantities is used, as is special glass - which will in turn carry over to BMW’s road cars, notably future performance M models.

“The weight advantage is the biggest one we have, it makes sense for urban areas at the moment,” Mr Settig said.

“There’s a huge advantage against an SUV or 7 Series (EV version), for advance, with the industrialisation of carbon-fibre and development of batteries.

“Say, we may double the range with the same capacity, then we can think of larger-dimension cars. For now, urban environments make the most sense.

“We saved ourselves space in between, we saved us ourselves the numbers from i1 to i9, so we have the freedom to decide which one its going to be, and no one can take up those numbers,” he said.

BMW’s electric push doesn’t just consist of sub-brand models such as the i3 and i8: the German company revealed in Frankfurt this week a plug-in hybrid concept of its X5 SUV that sips just 3.8 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres on the combined European cycle.

The petrol-electric plug-in concept uses a four-cylinder petrol engine combined with a 70kW electric motor and a high-voltage lithium-ion battery for an electric-only range of 30 kilometres when fully charged.

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