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“Project i” will build premium vehicles

Rumors | March 9th, 2009 by 10
BMW Three-Wheel Project i

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 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:

Project i will build premium vehicles

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.

Project i will build premium vehicles

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 ]

  • Matski

    Yeah that bike looking thing is a rubbish idea – looks like it would have the turning circle of a Maybach! Not good for a city car.

    IMO, BMW should revive the Isetta name, BUT the Isetta was an economY vehicle, these days it needs to be an economIC vehicle, but that doesn’t mean they would have to skimp on luxuries!

    I think they could get away with branding it as a BMW so long as it was head and shoulders about the Nano and the Smart.

    Of course, it would also make sense for it exist within the Mini brand instead.

  • Gord

    I don’t see what’s wrong with their plan. I’m sure in Asia there are people who want small cars with wood and some nice leather.

  • BMW fan

    The Isetta seems like a good idea but wouldn’t it end up competing with the Mini. If the Isetta is made it would have to be really cheap and not badged as a BMW. BMW should also revive the Triumph and Riley brands after the recession to have a competitor to the Mazda MX5 and roadsters.

  • Gord

    @BMW fan:

    Hmm.. Triumph, and knowing BMW, they will give it proper linage to the old Triumph TR4′s in terms of design. That’s an idea. Good one.

  • http://www.bmwblog.com Horatiu B.

    My bet goes on Isetta, there were too many talks about that brand name and I have a feeling BMW is fishing around, trying to “feel” the people.

    Plus, it will only make sense, Isetta cars still hold a good reputation, so why not build on that rather than introduce a new brand and spend more money bringing awareness ?

    So, let’s do it BMW, MINI was a success, Isetta could be also.

  • Lance

    Isetta was before my time… but a cute little car from the past. The idea of a 3 wheel vehicle is scary. Is it not unstable and unsafe? Is it that much more expensive to add another wheel? I don’t think it shouold be branded BMW unless it is a sporty car and drives well, or else, their brand image will suffer another hit, especially when comparing to the ever rising Audi (trying to be BMW, or what BMW used to be)

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  • Richard Yeager-Stiver

    Well, it is good to see once again a great car idea (three wheel bike) proposed by another car company – one that excites me – but will let me down. This design was first introduced by http://www.flytheroad.com, then Carver Vehicles, then Honda and now BMW. No one has ever moved these out and I don’t know why. They look awesome fun and I loved the test drive given by Top Gear on their website. Plus, my wife said this is the only way she’ll ever go on a bike – safety. Oh well. Thanks for the once-again-empty promise – especially with a 2015 roll-out – 5 more years?!

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