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BMW unveils i3 edition (2012), explains i strategy

Wed, 13 Jun 2012

BMW today revealed a new i3 concept car edition at the formal launch of the first bespoke BMW i dealership in London's Park Lane. The facility was also fitted with the BMW i Pedelec electric scooter, a new complementary bike with a 33-mile range.

The i3 is identical to the concept car unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt motor show apart from some cabin tweaks and a fresh paint job.

So what is new on the 2012 BMW i3?

It's all about the interior personalisation. The leather and wool upholstery are new, all designed with sustainability in mind. The S word is never far from the lips of BMW executives - the carbonfibre made in the US is produced with renewable energy from hydroelectric power stations, for example.

Benoit Jacob, BMW's head of i design, talked CAR around the i3 2012 edition unveiled in London. 'We are experimenting with surfaces - just look at the new eucalyptus wood on the dashboard,' he said. 'It's very modern, very simple, very premium.'

Jacob said the Project i design mentality was far from the 'more of everything' mentality typically associated with premium cars of yore. 'This is new, more responsible type of premium,' he told CAR.

And what's the BMW i3 like in the metal?

Plastic, you mean. The i3 is built around a carbonfibre tub, with aluminium and plastic subframes and body panels.

It remains as slick a looking hatchback as ever - a startling monobox design for a BMW as it's always been since we first saw those Megacity Vehicle design sketches all those years ago.

The cabin is smart and spacious. Jacob confirmed the see-through doors would be dropped for production; take a look at the BMW i8 Spyder shown at the 2012 Beijing show for inspiration.

BMW's new i specialist dealers

Sales and marketing chief Ian Robertson told CAR the new 56 Park Lane outlet in London, where the i3 edition was shown, was the world's first i brand centre.

Not all BMW dealers will sell i cars; BMW will focus on large metropolitan centres where it anticipates greatest demand for its electric and hybrid cars.

'London is arguably Europe's only megacity and we anticipate it could be the biggest market for our i8 super sports car', said Robertson.

He confirmed the i8 would cost 'over €100,000' at launch in 2014.

By Tim Pollard