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BMW Starts The Revolution With i3 Electric Car Launch

VW Plunges Into Electric Market Too.

Declaring that “the revolution has started”, German luxury car manufacturer launched its first electric car at the Frankfurt Car Show, the little i3.

BMW has dedicated a new sub-brand to electric vehicles which will all be labelled “i”. It’s next “i” vehicle will be the i8, a plug-in hybrid supercar, which it also unveiled at the show.

Not to be outdone, its compatriot Volkswagen launched the battery-only little e-Up city car and a battery powered e-Golf small family sedan.

At a press conference Monday, VW said it plans to offer up to 40 electric or hybrid vehicles, with 14 by next year. The e-Golf has a claimed range of 118 miles, and the e-Up should go about 100 miles on a full battery charge.

BMW has said it has patented the “i” designation for up to 10 vehicles.

But electric cars in Europe haven’t yet appealed to the buying public. Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn famously said 10 per cent of all global car sales would battery only by 2020. Not many experts buy that now. Recently Renault and its partner Nissan said it will miss a goal of selling 1.5 million electric cars together by 2016.

In the first seven months of 2013, only 17,291 electric cars were sold in Western Europe, according to Automotive Industry Data. This amounts to a market share of 0.25 per cent.

Undaunted, BMW had this to say about its electric cars today.

“The BMW i3 is the world’s first premium car conceived from the ground up to deliver electric mobility and emission-free driving in urban areas. With its eye on maximizing efficiency both within the city limits and beyond, the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid combines the dynamic capability of a high-performance sports car with fuel consumption and emissions you would normally expect from a small car,” BMW said.

Because of fears over range anxiety, BMW added a range-extender option to its i3 at the last moment – that’s a small gasoline motor which charges the battery when it runs out of juice.

Other new hybrid or battery models announced at the show included the Mercedes S class plug-in hybrid, the Peugeot 208 hybrid, Toyota Yaris-R hybrid concept, the Volvo concept coupe plug in hybrid, the Range Rover hybrid, and the Smart for two electric car.

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