BMW could launch an all-new environmental brand within the next seven years. It has set up a new unit called ‘Project i’ which is working on a completely new car specifically for driving in cities.
BMW chairman Norbert Reithofer said the project is fully independent and ‘free to act beyond BMW structures if necessary’. The i stands for innovation and it is not yet decided whether it will be a sub-brand to BMW or Mini (pictured right) yet.
He added: ‘The task of the ‘Project i’ team is to present specific solutions in the first half of the next decade. Whether this will require a fourth brand or not, will be decided at a later date.’
Reithofer added that it was not yet clear which alternative drive system or technology the new vehicle would use.
‘This is why we have decided to focus on a wide range of technological options,’ he said. ‘An electric motor is an option we are looking into. It does not only work at zero-emission level – the technology is now sophisticated enough to offer driving pleasure.
‘This is one of the reasons why we are evaluating the option of launching a battery-powered car.’
He said that a decision will be taken this year on the drive system and before a decision on a new brand could be taken a design would also have to be finalised.
‘We will look at all these things before we decide whether this might be a sub brand for BMW or Mini or whether it is a stand alone brand.’
The Project i team is also looking at mobility projects in the future looking at what extend people will be able to get around individually given traffic and emissions restrictions in big cities.