AD: BMW puts the i in electric.
THE LETTER i is a mainstay in the tech industry. Apple and Intel use it, supposedly in reference to the word ‘intelligence’, to label its cleverest inventions. BMW joined the club in 2011 when it launched its i sub brand dedicated to electric mobility, a seemingly overreaching idea at the time. The division celebrated its first fully-electric production vehicle when it launched the BMW i3 two years later. And it was joined by what is now quickly becoming a modern day icon for the brand – the plug-in hybrid BMW i8 Coupé.
The keyword here is iPerformance.
The fact that the i8 packs a 1.5-litre three-cylinder TwinPower Turbo engine, which in itself is a remarkably efficient powertrain adapted to select BMW models, is testament to the i sub-brand’s dedication to sustained, electrified performance even in cases where the internal combustion engine is still necessary. This powertrain strategy, which was a futuristic concept not too long ago, has been applied to BMW staples like the 3-Series and 5-Series differentiated from the rest by their iPerformance labels.
In Malaysia, the BMW iPerformance range with eDrive technology consists of the 330e, 530e, 740Le and X5 xDrive40e, which are all propelled by two-litre plugin hybrid powertrains offering the best balance between petrol-derived performance and electric-aided efficiency.
But there’s more to the group’s initiatives in making our roads cleaner where that came from…
We just need to dial back to this year’s Conference of the Electric Power Supply Industry (CEPSI) held in Kuala Lumpur recently where the first-ever BMW i8 Roadster became the latest show-stopping addition to BMW dealerships in the country. On top of using CEPSI as a platform to launch the headline act of its i sub-brand – the i8 Roadster costs RM1.5mil, mind you – BMW Malaysia also supplied a fleet of 530e to national energy supplier, Tenaga Nasional Berhad, to shuttle dignitaries throughout the event period.
This ‘e-mobility partnership’ was the first of its kind for CEPSI since its inception in 1976. Electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids as well as their supporting infrastructure are becoming bigger talking points with every passing year. BMW recognises this, which is why Alexander Kotouc, Head of Product Management for BMW i, flew into Kuala Lumpur to share his thoughts on the ‘Mobility of the Future’ as a keynote speaker at the conference.
If the significance of these events taking place in our own backyard is anything to go by, Malaysia seems primed for electric mobility on a wider scale. Local government agencies such as GreenTech Malaysia (provider of chargEV stations) and the Malaysian Automotive Institute (MAI) are already working hard to ensure this, and BMW Malaysia is in the mix as well. Let’s not forget that all BMW iPerformance models on sale here are locally-assembled in Kulim, Kedah, and the purchase of any of these models grants the owner a one-year subscription to chargEV services.
So, what’s next for BMW i?
The company has been busy churning out concepts like the Concept iX3, iNext Concept and i Vision Dynamics Concept in the past year. The i3 and i8 didn’t take very long to go from concept to production, so this is quite a reliable indication of how things will shape up for the i sub brand within the next few years. BMW is clearly all geared up for the electric revolution.