What began under the auspices of "Project i" back in 2007 has now formally become "BMW i" as the German automaker seeks to establish a new sub-brand for its premium green vehicles. In making the announcement, Ian Robertson, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for Sales and Marketing, noted that "It's a new day in our industry; a new era for individual mobility. This is BMW i - Born Electric."

"BMW i offers visionary cars and services, inspiring design, and an entirely new concept of premium mobility -- all with a focus on sustainability. It is the BMW Group's response to changing customer needs, including increasing demand for alternative drivetrains, such as electric drive systems and hybrids." To help underwrite the effort, the firm has created BMW i Ventures, a venture capital operation based in New York City with an investment totaling up to $100 million dollars.

Robertson went on to note that first two offerings from this sub-brand -- the BMW i3 and BMW i8 -- will launch from 2013. "The BMW i3 -- previously known as the Megacity Vehicle -- will be the BMW Group's first series-produced car for urban areas to be driven by electric power alone. The BMW i8, meanwhile, is based on the BMW Vision EfficientDynamics concept study. Its plug-in hybrid drive blends the sporting ability of a high-performance machine with the fuel consumption and emissions of a small car."

BMW i also will play a key role in helping BMW greatly expand its overall range of mobility services, including a number of new car-independent premium services that will encompass everything from intelligent navigation and real-time help in finding a parking space to inter-modal route planning and car-sharing. Beyond all in-house efforts, BMW also will work various strategic partners. The first of these is the New York-based "My City Way." It presently provides users with information on public transportation, parking availability, and local entertainment for over 40 U.S. cities but will add another 40 here -- plus BMW's hometown of Munich -- before the app gets rolled out for the BMW i program.

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