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BMW and Partner Will Triple Production of Carbon Fiber

Big plans for lightweight material.

by on May.09, 2014

BMW's i8 plug-in hybrid sports car is one of several models making extensive use of carbon fiber.

BMW and its partner SGL Automotive plan to triple their production of carbon fiber, a lightweight, but traditional expensive, material that many believe could be crucial to meeting future emissions and mileage mandates – and to making battery-electric vehicles, such as the BMW i3 and i8, more acceptable to consumers.

A number of automakers, including Toyota and General Motors, have been looking for ways to both lower the cost of, while also expanding production of, carbon fiber.

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But BMW has one of the most ambitious programs underway with SGL’s assistance, the partners operating plants in both Moses Lake, Washington and in Germany. The U.S. plant will now benefit from an additional investment of $200 million and is expected to become the world’s larger producer of carbon fiber reinforced plastics, or CFRP.

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Still a Month From Launch, BMW Considering Boosting Production of i3 Battery-Car

Initial demand outstripping planned capacity.

by on Oct.15, 2013

The production version of the all-electric BMW i3 city car will go on sale in Europe on November 16th and in the U.S. by mid-2014.

The first of BMW’s new “i” branded battery-cars won’t start rolling into European showrooms next months – U.S. sales to start next years – but initial demand is so strong that the Bavarian maker is already talking about ramping up production.

Customers have already placed orders for 8,000 of the new BMW i3 city cars, which will eventually be sold with a choice of either a pure battery-electric drivetrain or an optional range-extender which adds a small internal combustion engine that can allow a motorist to keep going even when the battery runs down.

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“If demand holds, which is what it’s looking like, we will soon have to invest more,” said BMW Chief Financial Officer Friedrich Eichiner during an Amsterdam news conference.  That translates, he clarified into “adjust(ing) capacity according to demand.”

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BMW Reveals Running Prototype of New i8 Plug-in Hybrid

by on Aug.07, 2013

BMW is offering a closer look at this thinly disguised prototype of its i8 plug-in sports car.

Confirming plans to reveal the production version of its new plug-in hybrid at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show, BMW has also offered up a look at a camouflaged version of the new i8 battery sports cars.

The unveiling at the Miramas test track in France comes just a week after the Bavarian maker gave the world a first official look at another new electric model, the little i3 city car. Both the i3 and i8 will form the backbone of a new battery brand-within-a-brand to be called BMW i.

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The plug-in drivetrain will rely on a 231 horsepower turbocharged 3-cylinder 1.5-liter TwinPower Turbo gasoline engine – similar to what we’ll be seeing in a new version of the BMW 1- and 3-Series models but here paired to an electric motor turning out 131 horsepower. That will be enough to launch the BMW i8 from 0 to 60 in just 4.5 seconds, or roughly comparable to the fully-electric Tesla Model S.

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BMW Is Plugged In – But Not Charged Up – About Battery Cars

Launches new EV car sharing program, but predicts marginal battery car sales.

by on Aug.22, 2012

San Franciscans can now rent a BMW ActiveE using a smartphone app.

BMW is plugging into the nascent electric vehicle market.  But that doesn’t mean it’s all that charged up about the technology’s opportunities, especially in the U.S., near-term.

Perhaps the best opportunity to create a market, the maker appears to be betting, is through non-traditional marketing efforts, such as the new DriveNow car-sharing service it has partnered with in San Francisco.

Without significant new incentives, senior BMW executives caution, direct EV sales to consumers will likely remain little more than an asterisk on the sales charts.

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With little fanfare, BMW quietly began letting DriveNow begin renting out its new 3-Series-based ActiveE battery-electric vehicle in late June.  At a growing number of automated locations in the city – with a center coming at San Francisco International Airport – motorists can pick up an ActiveE and use it for as little as a half hour or keep it for several days.

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First Look: BMW i8 Concept Spyder

Getting a charge out of battery power.

by on Apr.02, 2012

The BMW i8 plug-in sports car goes topless.

Who says battery cars have to be dull and boring?  BMW is determined to prove that electric propulsion can charge up buyers as it prepares to roll out its all-new sub-brand, BMW i.

The maker has already confirmed plans to stock the new marque’s showrooms with two models: the i3 battery-electric city car and the i8 plug-in hybrid. As TheDetroitBureau.com previously reported, we can anticipate several more models to follow – possibly including one based on the open-air prototype, the i8 Concept Spyder.

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Significantly, the maker refers to it as “the third BMW i model,” which would suggest that it will soon drop the “concept” designation and roll out a production version.

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German Automakers, Suppliers Launch Electric Vehicle Charging Partnership

Customer-friendly e-mobility.

by on Mar.15, 2012

The BMW i3 battery-electric city car.

Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler AG, BMW Group and suppliers Bosch, Siemens and several others have inked a new joint venture that aims to address one of the biggest obstacles to widespread expansion of electric vehicle sales: the lack of an efficient and readily available charging infrastructure.

The six partners plan to set up a base for what they’re calling “hubject GmbH” in Berlin, where it will help establish a charging network across Germany – and could serve as a model for simple project in the U.S. and other parts of the world.

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“The market for electromobility in Germany is coming to life,” said a joint release. “The number of electric vehicles available is steadily increasing. This calls for an easily accessible, integrated charging infrastructure. And to ensure that customers can access this infrastructure simply, wherever they are, the diverse technologies in the electromobility market need to be linked.”

The partnership aims to establish a common charging system, make it easier for motorists to locate chargers that can handle a variety of different makers’ vehicles, and then simplify billing

Hubject is expected to set up not only conventional charging stations but also provide access to high-speed, high-voltage systems that could provide an 80% charge in minutes, rather than hours.

But despite having some key players in the consortium it appears that a number of specifics have yet to be worked out, the release suggesting that, “The new enterprise is a deliberately open platform that aims to involve as many partners as possible.”

The German federal government has been lending both moral and financial support to the push for alternative power and is promising to invest billions, over the coming decade, to support the set up not only of a network of battery charging stations but also hydrogen pumps that can be used for vehicles such as the Mercedes-Benz F-Cell fuel cell vehicle and the BMW Hydrogen7, which burns the clean, lightweight gas in a modified internal combustion engine.

BMW Ready to Add i4 and i5 to Battery-Car Line-Up.

Both models to rely on lightweight carbon fiber.

by on Aug.10, 2011

The BMW i8 and i3 models may soon have a few siblings in the showroom.

BMW plans to rapidly expand its battery-car line-up, according to various sources, adding two more models to the new i sub-brand that it has already confirmed will include the little i3 and sporty 18 models.

The two new models, i4 and i5, will make extensive use of super-light carbon fiber to enhance performance and improve energy efficiency and range.  That appears to suggest the German maker believes it can dramatically reduce the cost of the composite material, which is currently too expensive to use on anything other than the most expensive of sports cars – such as the new Lamborghini Aventador.

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The two new models likely won’t appear on the market before late in the decade, report both Autoblog.com and Bimmerfile, with concept versions expected to be revealed sometime after the 2014 launch of the i8, the most expensive of the models currently planned for BMW’s new i brand-within-a-brand.

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First Look: BMW i3 and i8 Electric Concept Cars

Maker also announces ParkAtMyHouse smartphone app.

by on Jul.29, 2011

CEO Norbert Reithofer unveils the new BMW i3 and i9 battery cars - which will make a public debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

BMW has finally taken the wraps off two concept cars that signal the strategy of its long-anticipated electric car sub-brand, BMW i.  The prototypes, which are set to make their formal public debut at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show, show the Bavarian maker positioning itself as the environmentally friendly leader in the competitive luxury car market.

During a Frankfurt news conference, BMW officials not only revealed both the BMW i3 and i8 concepts but also announced their investment in a new service called Parkatmyhouse.  Using the Internet or a smartphone app, the service would permit homeowners and other individuals to rent out their parking spaces on a short or long-term basis.

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Declaring the upcoming launch of the BMW i3 and BMW i8 a “milestone,” the German automaker’s Chairman Norbert Reithofer said the goal is to “offer customers purpose-built electric-drive cars,” rather than simply stuffing a battery-based drivetrain under the hood of a conventional automobile.

The potential advantage is that a dedicated battery-electric vehicle can be designed to minimize aerodynamic drag, reduce mass and improve weight balance to maximize performance and handling – critical attributes of the BMW brand.

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BMW Sets $499/month Price Tag for ActiveE

Maker also launching new 4-cylinder version of Z4 roadster, while planning two new “green” dealerships for Manhattan.

by on Apr.18, 2011

BMW enters the battery-car market with the ActiveE.

BMW customers can finally plug into the emerging world of battery car technology.  The maker has formally announced pricing for its first electric vehicle, the ActiveE, while also making several other “green” announcements in advance of this week’s New York Auto Show.

The limited-edition BMW ActiveE will give the maker the chance to test both demand for battery cars – and the electric vehicle technology it is now developing – in preparation for the launch of its new BMWi unit, which will focus specifically on alternative propulsion.

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In all, just 700 ActiveE sedans will be brought over to the U.S., and interested customers will be able to start signing up late this coming summer.  They’ll be available for a 24-month lease only, at $499 a month, with a $2,250 down-payment.

The monthly figure is several $100 more than a new Nissan Leaf, but a fraction of the anticipated $1,200 a month that the  Volvo C30 Electric, which TheDetroitBureau.com reviewed recently – Click Here for more on the C30 battery carwill likely go for.

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BMW Launches New “Sustainable Mobility” Brand

BMW i debuting with battery-powered i3 and i8 models.

by on Feb.21, 2011

Renamed i8, the striking BMW Vision concept will reappear as one of the first two models for the maker's new BMW i sub-brand.

BMW has given an official name to its new battery-powered brand-within-a-brand.  The operation, which had been going by the working name, Megacity, will now be called BMW i, and will charge into dealer showrooms in 2013 with a pair of lithium-ion-powered luxury cars.

Using the new “LifeDrive” architecture, the BMW i3 and i8 models will target those customers who want premium products that are nonetheless eco-friendly, the maker explains.  Additional products are likely to be added to the line-up in the years ahead, the maker broadly hints.

“BMW i offers visionary cars and services, inspiring design, and an entirely new concept of premium mobility – all with a focus on sustainability”, explained BMW Board Member and sales and marketing director Ian Robertson.  “The products and services have been conceived around a revolutionary approach: purpose designed and purpose built for sustainable, premium mobility.

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The BMW i3, originally known as the Megacity Vehicle, will serve as the core of the new sub-brand.  It’s the first BMW product designed specifically for use in urban areas solely on electric power.  Set for production at the German maker’s plant in Leipzig, it will be based on the LifeDrive platform, which uses an aluminum chassis and a carbon fibre-reinforced plastic, or CFRP, passenger cell.

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