Project i represents the latest gimmick from BMW and the company’s bet on building smaller, cleaner and more efficient cars.
The first news around this project came about in November 2007, when “Project i” was still in the rumor stage. At the time, there were three options that BMW was looking at: acquire an existing brand, create a new one or revive an older name, Isetta in this case.
Around the same time, we had the first CGI of what the car might look like:
The rumors became reality when BMW’s CEO, Herr Reithofer validated the Project i, a “car with a completely new look, with two engines available. One will be a very efficient internal combustion engine and the other will be a purely electric model”.
At the Geneva Motor Show, Project-i leader Dr Ulrich Kranz took the time to reassure the BMW fans that these will be premium vehicles, not competitors to Tata Nano.
The “Project i” models will be geared towards mega-cities, such as NYC, London, Tokyo, Mexico City and many others, cities in desperate need of vehicles that can solve some of the traffic congestion issues.
The MINI E pilot taking place in the US, Germany and London soon, will provide feedback that will assist with the Project i development. “These will assist our learning process of what urban customers want and need,” said Kranz.
And yes, BMW has still not decided whether these vehicles will carry the BMW roundel or a different brand name will be used.
Even though at one point BMW was looking for an engineering firm that will help them develop the vehicles, BMW confirmed that they will be built by them in Germany at BMW factories , no outsourcing is being considered.
Now, here comes the odd part and something that we have heard many times before, even saw a rendering of it: the “Project i” might be also developed as three-wheeled vehicles, something that BMW has done in the past. Basically, a cross-pollination between Mini and BMW’s motorcycle division.
While I don’t see such vehicles being very popular today, I definitely see them as a viable alternative to the current “mini cars” in, let’s say, 5-6 years. The “Project i” cars have a delivery date set for 2015.[Source: Carmagazine UK ]