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BMW rocks on to Electric Avenue

04.03.2013

BMW ups their game in the electric premium segment.

There’s no denying that the world has reached a critical point in automotive history.

The combustion engine, which has been around for over a century, is suddenly looking rather dated as it continues to pollute our planet. While the world calls for change, manufacturers are looking at new ways to evolve the industry.

Enter the BMW i, a development of visionary vehicles and mobility services which focuses on sustainability and redefining the automotive experience.
Most manufacturers agree that the way we see motoring is unsustainable, as cities continue to evolve rapidly and our road networks become heavily congested. Throw into the mix our heavy reliance on fossil fuels and you start to understand why we are in desperate need for change.

BMW recently unveiled its future plans for sustainable mobility. While most people believe hybrids aren’t necessarily the future, they are indeed a crucial stepping stone in future developments. Having spent some time behind the wheel of two of BMW’s ActiveHybrid range, in the form of the ActiveHybrid 3 and ActiveHybrid 5, I can appreciate the technology that has gone into creating a car that utilises both the classic petrol engine with electric- engine technology to offer the customer fuel savings without sacrificing on performance.

But this is by no means the overall solution. In fact, BMW did hint rather strongly towards its future plans by letting us get behind the wheel of two of its prototype vehicles. The BMW ActiveE, which was unveiled to the world in 2010 and the Mini E. These vehicles are BMW’s next systematic step towards an emissions-free, mass-produced electric vehicle.

Both the BMW ActiveE and Mini E are conversion cars, whereby electric drive components are fitted to a vehicle body shell, which usually boasts a combustion engine. The concepts have provided BMW valuable insight into usability, performance and functionality.

However, these vehicles’ platforms were never purposefully built for electric mobility as they still carry a lot of the unnecessary weight.

But BMW’s new i brand has embraced electric mobility by adopting a comprehensive approach, redefining the understanding of personal mobility with purpose-built vehicle concepts, a focus on sustainability throughout the value chain and a range of complementary mobility services.

Through the i brand, BMW aims to offer the next-generation customers the complete package  - from mobile apps, installing charging stations at one’s home and even vehicle sharing. It’s certainly an exciting time in our motoring history, but a lot needs to be done in order to change consumer behaviour.

With electrifying products like the BMW i3 Concept, though, the company’s first series-produced all-electric car focuses squarely on the mobility challenges in urban areas and, as the first premium electric vehicle and the BMW i8 Concept, a sports car of the most contemporary variety.

Its unique plug-in hybrid solution brings together a combustion engine and an electric-drive system to create an extraordinary driving experience, complemented by extremely low fuel consumption and emissions. Both set for a local launch next year, means the future might be arriving sooner than we anticipated.

Article written by Stuart Moir
04.03.2013
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