In a recent interview with Dr. Philip Koehn, Head of BMW Vision EfficientDynamics program, we talked about the upcoming BMW Vision vehicle and other electric vehicles that will join the BMW fleet in 2013. Among other interesting subjects, Dr. Koehn mentioned the possibility of several European cities to ban super sport cars within the city limits.
” A super sports car is charming, but we believe that sooner or later, these cars might not be allowed in the London congestion zone for example. The Vision Concept will not go against a Ferrari 458 on a racetrack, it was absolutely not designed for this. We really want to open up a dimension where one is socially accepted and you can enter into zones and areas where in 2013 or 2014 could possibly making difficult to allow conventional super sports cars.”
So it came to no surprise when Detroit Free Press reports on the city of Paris, France, planning to ban high-emissions vehicle from their city cores over the next ten years.
Denis Baupin, an environmental official in the mayor’s office, said Wednesday that sport utility vehicles and old diesel cars are likely to be targeted in upcoming test restrictions. The details are still been drawn, but essentially the city of Paris will issue a list of vehicles that are being banned, the neighborhoods where the ban will take place, the daily time frame and of course, penalties or fines for those that don’t obey the city law.
Other French cities planning to test similar restrictions over the next two years include Lyon, Grenoble, and Aix-en-Provence.
According to the same newspaper, many other European cities, including London and Berlin, already have “low emission zones,” with varying restrictions on the type of vehicles targeted.
And this brings us to BMW’s upcoming sub-brand which will sell the electric vehicles developed under the Project i program. As we said in a previous editorial, in our opinion, Megacity Vehicle is BMW’s biggest bet ever, a gamble some may say, but a necessary step in the right direction according to others. BMW’s CEO can’t agree more: “The Megacity Vehicle is a must-have for BMW.”
BMW plans to launch their first Megacity in 2013 as a car that caters to mobility and urban environment. A city ban on gas-guzzler vehicles may work in BMW’s favor, since most of their European fleet has been becoming more and more fuel efficient over the last few years.
If the Megacity vehicle turns out to be as appealing and fun to drive as Adrian Von Hooydonk described it, then the Munich-based automaker will have a winner on their hands and the car will arrive at the right moment. The new “i” sub-brand is not expected to be profitable within the first few years after the launch, but a more wide ban in major European cities may overturn the predictions to a more favorable, faster outcome.
Nissan is betting on the same horse. Their all-star Leaf model will be built at the England’s Sunderland plant in early 2013 and the Japanese company is expected to produce over 50,000 units annually.
Expectations are that the new Megacity family will drive BMW into a new segment where they intend to become the world’s leader in premium electric vehicles, but at the same time, they will face an even large numbers of competitors, not just the premium ones.