2012 / 2013 BMW City / Project i - Car News
Pint size EV from BMW or Mini may carry "City" badge.
BY JUERGEN ZOELLTER, PHOTOGRAPHY BY CARPIX, AARON KILEY, AND THE MANUFACTURER, ILLUSTRATION BY YOSHI G
Having the right products in the right niches might be the key to sales success for automakers when the economy emerges from its stay in the ICU. BMW’s plan is to develop a super-efficient car family code-named “Project i.” The first car will be launched in 2012. It will be smaller and cost less than the next BMW 1-series or Mini Cooper, both of which will come to market in 2011.
BMW is no longer pursuing small-volume niche cars such as the near-six-figure SUV version of the 7-series, dubbed the X7; the SUV-like X4 coupe; the diminutive Z2 roadster; and the company’s Audi R8 competitor, the small mid-engine CS sports car.
Instead, BMW will devote those resources to a three-door hatchback currently referred to as the BMW “City.” According to BMW chairman and CEO Norbert Reithofer, the City is designed specifically for the U.S. market to meet California’s Zero-Emission-Vehicle (ZEV) requirements that call for large-volume manufacturers to sell ZEVs by 2012. Smaller than a Honda Fit, the BMW City will be a four-seater powered by an electric motor. Styling will be BMW-like, with short overhangs, a wide track, and a low roofline. Electricity will be stored in a water-cooled lithium-ion battery pack that is expected to provide a 100-mile range. Other versions of the City will get a gas or diesel engine and are being developed for Asian markets, particularly China. It hasn’t been decided whether the electric City will be badged as a Mini or a BMW. Reithofer also hinted that it may get a new name. BMW holds the rights to Riley and Triumph, but considering the reputation of electrical systems in British cars, redeploying those old names probably isn’t the best idea.