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BMW Aims to Redefine “The Ultimate Driving Machine”

But do hybrids, battery-cars and autonomous vehicles fit the brand?

by on Aug.31, 2015

BMW's Ian Robertson is betting technology won't turn off the brand's traditional fans.

Can you lay claim to building “the ultimate driving machine” if your fleet is filled with autonomous vehicles powered by plug-in hybrid and pure battery-electric drivetrains? That’s the very real question facing BMW.

The Bavarian maker’s sixth-generation 7-Series sedan comes as close to hands-free driving as anything on the road, and company officials promise they’re ready to push things further if regulators give them the go. The 2016 7-Series, meanwhile, will add a new plug-in model next year, with the technology set to roll out on a variety of other models over the next several years.

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“This is the flagship,” said Ian Robertson, the BMW board member in charge of global marketing, during a New York media drive of the new 750i sedan. “This is the vehicle that brings the latest innovations that will be spread through the rest of our line-up in the coming years.”


BMW Speeds Up the Roll-out of its New Plug-In Line-up

Getting a first drive of the new 2-Series Active Tourer eDrive.

by on Jul.01, 2015

This PHEV version of the new 2-Series Active Tourer will be one of four BMW plug-ins coming to market in the months ahead.

For BMW, 2016 is going to be the year of the PHEV. Forget low fuel prices the Bavarians are convinced plug-ins are here to stay, and they’re rolling out and assortment of new models that pick up on the technology first introduced with the exotic BMW i8.

In a matter of months, we’ll see four plug-based models, including versions of the X5, 2 Series Active Tourer, 3 Series and 7 Series.

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Why now? There are all sorts of reasons. For one thing, few expect today’s low fuel prices to last, even in the United States. And tough new emissions and mileage standards will be phasing in over the next decade, making it difficult for luxury manufacturers to remain on the market without adopting cleaner and more efficient powertrain technologies.


BMW Adds 1st SUV Plug-in with Launch of X5 xDrive40e

"Ideally suited to short commutes."

by on Mar.18, 2015

The new 2016 BMW xDrive40e uses a 9 kWh lithium battery to deliver up to 13 miles in electric mode.

BMW is clearly getting charged up about battery power. It’s already launched its new i3 and i8 models, along with some hybridized versions of its conventional product lines. Now, it’s ready to switch on its first plug-in Sport Activity Vehicle, the new X5 xDrive40e.

First shown in concept form as the X5 eDrive at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show, the new BMW plug-in comes at a significant time for European luxury makers in general. This month’s Geneva Motor Show was flooded with high-end hybrids and battery-electric models. And Mercedes-Benz this week announced it will add a whopping 10 new plug-ins to its line-up by 2017.


Delivering an estimated 55 MPGe, and up to 13 miles on electric power alone, BMW expects to have the 2016 X5 xDrive40e rolling into U.S. showrooms by autumn.


BMW Studies Options for an M Hybrid

But near-term focus is on downsized, turbocharged engines.

by on Jun.10, 2014

The 2015 BMW M3 gets a smaller, turbo engine.

Among the many products offered by a marque that bills itself “the ultimate driving machine,” it’s those branded with the vaunted “M” badge that best live up to that boast.

In recent years, BMW has significantly expanded its line-up of M offerings, including the new M3 and M4 models that go on sale this month. But those two high performance products reveal an ongoing shift in strategy for the M brand-within-a-brand, a move away from big-block naturally aspirated engines, to more technically sophisticated powertrains that are downsized and turbocharged.

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BMW is by no means alone. There have been reports that General Motors may take a similar route with the next-generation Corvette. But in an exclusive interview with, the chief engineer for BMW’s M line revealed the subsidiary is giving serious consideration to going a step further with hybrids and other battery-based powertrains.


Driving the new BMW i8

Reinventing the sports car.

by on May.06, 2014

BMW's i8 plug-in hybrid sports car is expected to roll off the production line this summer with the first deliveries in Europe.

The BMW i8 may look more like a concept than a production car, but it really is street legal. BMW’s first plug-in hybrid sports car has just begun rolling down the maker’s assembly line in Leipzig, Germany, and will soon join the i3 city car as the foundation of an all-new, brand-within-a-brand of battery-based vehicles, collectively known as BMW i.

The appeal of the i8 is not just in it’s distinctive, carbon-fiber skin. Beneath that futuristic body, the i8 boasts game-changing technology that could revolutionize the sports car segment – a good reason for to head off for some time behind the wheel before it officially goes on sale next month in Europe.

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One thing is certain, the i8 has to live up to some grand expectations. Sales of the plug-in sports car have already exceeded BMW’s original forecast, so the Bavarians have decided to ramp up production. Exactly how many will it sell? BMW isn’t saying for sure, though it’s expected this year’s production will run between 3,000 and 3,500 units. (more…)

BMW Reveals Array of New Models

Focus is on performance.

by on Apr.17, 2014

BMW board member Ian Robertson behind the wheel of the new M4 Convertible.

With nearly 60 different products making their U.S. or global debut at this year’s New York Auto Show, nearly every major automaker – and quite a few smaller ones – has something to show off this month.

But BMW has a disproportionate presence on the list, with the Bavarian automaker putting a particular emphasis on performance.  But the maker is also giving a hint as to its possible plans to roll out a battery-based version of its big X5 Sport Activity Vehicle.

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“This is a year for BMW to set significant milestones,” said Ian Robertson, the BMW board member overseeing global sales. It’s already pulled off one, delivering a record 487,000 vehicles during the first quarter of the year worldwide, and the company – which includes brands BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce — is “aiming for a significant increase to a record of over 2 million” vehicles for all of 2014.


BMW Plugs-in with Battery X5 Concept

Frankfurt debut planned.

by on Aug.23, 2013

The BMW Concept X5 eDrive delivers 19 miles of battery-only range before switching to hybrid mode.

Who says you need a microcar to get good mileage? While SUVs have traditional inspired the wrath of environmentalists, BMW hopes to win some love with the Concept X5 eDrive it will bring to the Frankfurt Motor Show next month.

The show car is expected to return in the not-too-distant future as a plug-in version of the popular BMW X5 Sport-Activity Vehicle, part of a growing line-up of plug-based vehicles from the Bavarian maker that will soon include its i3 battery-electric vehicle and i8 plug-in sports model.

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The lithium-ion-powered BMW Concept X5 eDrive boasts about 19 miles of battery range, with the ute able to operate in electric-only mode at speeds up to 75 mph. Fuel economy is an estimated 60 miles per gallon – though European tests generally yield higher results than what the American EPA testing cycle gets.


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.


BMW Sets $42,000 Price Tag for New i3 Battery Car

Official unveiling scheduled for July 29th in NY, London and Beijing.

by on Jul.22, 2013

BMW gets ready for the formal unveiling of the production i3 next week.

Though it’s still nearly a year from reaching U.S. showrooms, BMW has set a price of $42,275 for the new i3 electric vehicle that will serve as the launch platform for its all-new battery-car brand-within-a-brand, BMW i.

The little battery-electric vehicle will primarily target urban commuters who’re nonetheless looking for more than just basic transportation. The BMW i3 will not only offer more up-market attributes but also will be notable as the auto industry’s first mass-produced vehicle to make extensive use of super-light carbon fiber.

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“The BMW i3 heralds the dawn of a new era for individual mobility and for the BMW Group,” suggested Ian Robertson, Member of the Board of Management, Sales and Marketing BMW. “True to a genuine BMW, the BMW i3 has strong emotional appeal, outstanding product substance and a guarantee of sheer driving pleasure.  With this leading-edge vehicle and attractive price, we will provide customers with a compelling offer for electromobility.” (more…)

First Look: BMW Active Tourer Concept

A step closer to production for the i3 battery car?

by on Sep.14, 2012

The BMW Active Tourer Concept will makes its debut at the 2012 Paris Motor Show.

With the debut of the new BMW Active Tourer Concept at this month’s Paris Motor Show we’ll come a giant step closer to learning what to expect when the Bavarian maker launches its all-new battery-car brand next year.

Though still a concept, the Active Tourer is a much closer take on the little i3 city car that will be the first offering from the new BMW i brand-within-a-brand. It will be followed soon after by the more sporty i8 – with several other electrified vehicles reportedly in the works.

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Roughly the length of the latest BMW 1-Series, at 171 inches, nose-to-tail, and with a 105-inch wheelbase, the Active Tourer Concept also borrows some of the design features of the latest 3-Series sedan – notably the nose, with its slightly tilted double-kidney grille framed by twin headlamps topped by LED running lights. But the overall shape is more crossover-like, standing a full five inches taller than the 1-Series and four inches wider.

The Active Tourer Concept makes use of BMW's latest eDrive plug-in hybrid system.