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First Look: BMW i3 Coupe Concept

Bavarian maker’s new battery-car family grows bigger.

by on Nov.28, 2012

BMW imagines a new Coupe Concept version of the i3 battery car for the LA Auto Show.

BMW’s new battery-car brand has yet to sell a single car but if the i3 Coupe Concept at the LA Auto Show is any indication, the new line will be getting bigger in a hurry.

Officially designated a “study,” the i3 Coupe has a lot in common with the rest of what BMW hopes will become an entirely new line-up of environmentally friendly models, starting with the upcoming launch of the bigger i8 plug-in.

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One thing all of the new BMW “i” models will share is the use of lightweight carbon fiber bodies designed to maximize range, as well as performance.  With the i3 Coupe Concept, the maker has adopted what it bills as a new “stream flow” design concept that is meant to convey “an instant impression of lightness, transparency and streamlined aerodynamic qualities.”


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 reviewed recently – Click Here for more on the C30 battery carwill likely go for.


BMW Turns To Hydrogen – For Its Factory

Once-promising technology goes to work on the assembly line.

by on Oct.13, 2010

There'll be 85 hydrogen-powered forlifts and other loaders at the BMW Spartanburg plant.

Remember the fuel cell?  Not all that long ago, it seemed like the technology bound to replace the internal combustion engine.

But, for the moment, at least, the hydrogen-based power source has fallen out of favor, the automotive world now focusing its attention on more promising battery technology.

But while the hopes of switching to hydrogen power in the next decade may be largely gone, the fuel cell is anything but forgotten, as BMW is demonstrating at its newly-expanded assembly plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

The German maker will be switching from conventional forklifts, tuggers and stackers to ones powered by compact fuel cell systems, it says.

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There’s a heavy emphasis on sustainability at the enlarged factory, which is now ramping up production of the next-generation X3 crossover, explains Josef Kerscher, President of BMW Manufacturing. “There’s a clear vision and determination to reach our goal of using renewable energy as much as possible throughout the plant site.”


BMW To Launch U.S. Trial Of ActiveE Battery-Car

Maker targeting key coastal markets.

by on Sep.23, 2010

BMW will begin field testing its ActiveE battery-car vehicle in summer 2011 in key U.S. markets.

BMW’s ActiveE Concept – first unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show last January – will take a giant step closer to production next summer, the automaker plans to announce today.

The Bavarian marque will use the Opportunity Green conference, in Los Angeles, to outline an ambitious field test of the ActiveE, focusing on key markets on the East and West Coasts.  The maker anticipates using the project as a prelude for the launch of its battery-powered Megacity Vehicle in 2013.

The sprawling Los Angeles to San Diego metroplex will play a “key” role, according to BMW officials, along with the Greater New York region.  But the maker will also field some of the battery cars in San Francisco and Sacramento, out west, and in Boston.

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“We’re looking forward to working with more drivers in more markets to build our base of experience,” explains Rich Steinberg, who oversees electric vehicle operations for BMW of North America. The ActiveE program, he notes, will run concurrently with a field test of the Mini E, a battery-based microcar from BMW’s British subsidiary.


BMW Sees Green

Automaker must launch an array of alternative powertrains - without sacrificing its performance roots.

by on Sep.02, 2009

From hybrids to hydrogen vehicles, BMW promises to go green, but can the maker hold down costs – and maintain the distinctive ride and performance that justifies its hefty product premium?

From hybrids to hydrogen vehicles - and possibly with diesel-hybrids, like this Vision Concept - BMW promises to go green, but can the maker hold down costs – and maintain the distinctive ride and performance that justifies its hefty product premium?

BMW has an alternative Vision of the future.

No, the Vision show car making its debut at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, this month, won’t be rolling into showrooms anytime soon.  Its diesel-hybrid powertrain is far too complicated and expensive to produce – for now.  But Vision concept underscores the automaker’s increasingly energetic search for cleaner, high-mileage technology that can supplement, potentially even replace, the traditional powertrains that it has long relied on.

But “going green” poses some potentially serious challenges for the company, officials acknowledge.  For one thing, while new laws may require – and consumers demand – cleaner, more fuel-efficient vehicles, the German maker must maintain the distinctive performance and ride that allows it to charge a premium for vehicles ranging from the subcompact 1-Series to its big 7-er sedans.

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There’s also the issue of cost.  Despite the traditional premium consumers have paid for the marque’s “spinner” logo, BMW officials question how much more motorists will shell out for “clean” vehicles.