German premium vehicle producer BMW Group is kicking off a new era of e-mobility after it launched its latest battery electric vehicle model i3 and plug-in hybrid i8 in Beijing on Sept 21.
"Sustainability is set as a strategic objective of the BMW Group. Our commitment is all-round, among which e-mobility is the future of our business," said Karsten Engel, president and CEO of BMW Group Region China.
As a step to further enhance the company's branding philosophy of "Your Driving Pleasure, Our Joy" in China, the two models were unveiled at BMW's event - Joy Night.
Two variants of the pure electric four-door compact i3 will be sold at 449,800 yuan and 516,800 yuan respectively, while the price of the most progressive sports car - the plug-in hybrid i8 - was fixed at 1.988 million yuan.
"It's the start of a revolution, which the car industry has awaited for over a century. This holistic approach to e-mobility is a solid step forward in China," said Engel.
For nearly 130 years, cars have been made of steel and powered by combustion engines. "Today, the BMW i8 and i3 are breaking this norm and setting new standards for the future, as they, for the first time in the auto industry, implement sustainability throughout the value chain and re-define the luxury concept in the market," Engel said.
As the first purpose-built electric cars from the very beginning, the i models come with a unique LifeDrive architecture and intelligent lightweight concept.
BMW is the only car manufacturer who has mastered volume production of carbon-fiber materials, which are extraordinarily light, strong and safe.
"This high-tech material brings unparalleled inspiration and freedom for engineering and aesthetics design," said Engel.
The use of carbon fiber helps improve sustainability without compromising performance. The BMW i8 can accelerate from zero to 100 km/h within just 4.4 seconds. The car consumes 2.1 liters of fuel per 100 km when fully charged and driven in the city.
More impressively, as a pure electric car designed for megacities like Beijing, the BMW i3 is zero-emission.
Equipped with the latest BMW eDrive technology and well-designed battery system, with one charge, a standard i3 can run for 160 km. The Range Extender model is capable of going 285 km, which should satisfy daily transport requirements in big cities.
Even when electricity generation is taken into account, the greenhouse potential of the BMW i3 can be reduced by 30 percent to more than 50 percent compared with conventional vehicles of its size and performance, according to test results from consulting and testing company TUV SUD Group in Germany.
"Furthermore, we produce the carbon fiber raw material using hydroelectric power, and build the BMW i with sustainable wind power. The BMW i is truly a green concept," said Engel.
He said that by 2016, the capacity of the carbon fiber plant in California, which is the largest in the world, would be expanded to 9,000 tons a year. "We have a strong desire to create something better for tomorrow," Engel said.
BMW also supports customers with comprehensive premium services. The "360-degree ELECTRIC" approach hopes to make e-mobility enjoyable and easy.
According to BMW's trials, 99 percent of customer demands could be satisfied by home charging facilities. At the start of the market launch, BMW plans to provide customers with free basic installment of the home charging facility.
The company is also working with its partners to provide public charging solutions.
In May, BMW started a joint project in Shanghai to build 50 charging pillars. In July, the Sino-German Electric Vehicle Charging Project, in which BMW played an active role, announced that the standards for A/C charging was unified, which meant all BMW charging pillars can be used to charge most other electric vehicles in China.
"We believe the more charging pillars that are in place and the more electric vehicles on the road, the better for the entire market. With BMW i, and our NEV (neighborhood electric vehicle) brand ZINORO under BMW Brilliance, as well as our future electric vehicles, we are taking a pioneering role in the Chinese new-energy vehicle market," said Engel.
"We are offering a total solution with a comprehensive business model. With the rental and leasing services, we will provide attractive financial offers," he said.
BMW have appointed seven authorized 5S dealers for BMW i in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Shenyang.
In China, authorized dealers are usually referred to as 4S for their functions of sales, service, survey and spare parts. The seven dealers for BMW i are called 5S because the concept of sustainability has been added, the company said.
In the future, BMW i will be introduced to more cities and the dealer network will be expanded, according to Engel.