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BMW aims to lead electric car market

Drivers who watched last year’s Hollywood blockbuster “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” probably dreamt of owning a BMW i8, with its sleek, futuristic appearance. Alternatively, an increasing number of people concerned about their budget want electric cars as gas prices continue to rise.

Soon, a combination of the two ideals will be available after the German automaker announced plans to mass produce the i8, currently just a concept car, along with a smaller electric version, the i3, available here from 2014, following a global launch for the two models scheduled for next year.

The firm held a showcase and seminar in Seoul last week called “BMW i — Innovation Days,” during which they showed off the two i-series models here for the first time and discussed issues surrounding electric vehicles with government officials, professors and journalists as well as members of the public.

During the event, Uwe Dreher, head of BMW’s i-brand management, emphasized there will be more electric vehicles to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, although it will take some time to see a visible change in the industry. He expects the market share of electric cars to account for 10 percent by 2020.

BMW has launched a program titled “Project i” that aims to make the next generation of cars more eco-friendly.

The i3 has zero emissions and can travel up to 160 kilometers when fully charged. The i8 is a hybrid concept car, which can travel up to 35 kilometers on electricity and has a twin-turbo engine with an average fuel consumption of 3.76 liters per 100 kilometers while carbon dioxide emissions stand at 99 grams per kilometer. Having proven their worth as concept models, the final stages for mass production under the new sub-brand BMW i, are being put into place.

Developers say the i-brand models will be developed in totally different ways, using new materials and technology such as carbon fiber, which is much lighter and stronger, to improve energy consumption.

Manuel Sattig, the communications manager for Project i, also said “clean” is a key word in the development of electric cars because even in the development stage recycled materials and clean energy were used.


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