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BMW Bets $100 Million on New Business Ventures

A cautious carmaker takes some risks.

by on Apr.14, 2011

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

No risk, no reward, right? Corporate graveyards are littered with the decaying remains of corporate business ventures and significant investments into unknown businesses about which little was known, technology was paramount, executive management was inexperienced or the board of directors was brain dead. Not exactly a stunning review or forecast of the future, especially now.

That is why it was surprising when BMW, known for its calm, considered and cautious approach to business, announced BMW i Ventures, a venture capital company with an investment fund of up to $100 million to develop “individual mobility solutions” for the world’s biggest cities. This is in addition to the previously announced BMW i secondary brand of the Munich based company.

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BMW i, according to a recent statement, is the new business for sustainable vehicles and mobility solutions including the BMW i3 and BMW i8 model cars, to be launched in 2013, that will be built in a new €400 million factory in Leipzig, Germany. “The BMW i brand is the response to changing customer needs, including increasing demand for alternative drive trains, such as electric drive systems and hybrids’,” noted Ian Robertson, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for sales and marketing.

Joerg Reimann, managing director of the new business told me in a recent telephone interview, “BMW i Ventures is the second pillar under the BMW i brand is focusing on services not necessarily connected to cars,” which, he admits, is, “An unconventional approach.”   The new division is aiming at consumers in high density, megacities where not all will own or need to own an automobile – thus increasing the need for solutions involving public transportation and organizing one’s life.

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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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