BMW is emphasizing once again its commitment for the upcoming BMW i electric vehicles. A report by Automotive News Europe confirms that BMW AG has hired former Opel product chief and lead engineer for Chevy Volt, Frank Weber.
Weber brings his expertise and lessons learned from the Volt that will be applied to the BMW i3, the first BMW fully electric vehicle to come to market in 2013. Weber will report to Klaus Draeger, BMW’s head of research and development. As Automotive News reports, Weber’s hiring shows the high value automakers place on people with expertise in alternative powertrain as BMW seldom hires top-ranking executives from competitors because it prefers to develop its own talent and promote from within.
Weber is a German native who joined Opel in 1991 after finishing his engineering studies at Darmstadt University. He held several leading positions in the technical development center in Ruesselsheim such as director of advanced concept engineering.
The upcoming BMW i3 is built using lightweight carbon fiber materials and powered by a lithium-ion battery with 35 kWh of capacity placed below the vehicle’s floor. Rear-wheels approach remains in BMW’s philosophy and the power is sent to the rear wheels through a rear-mounted 150-hp electric motor. Driving range is expected to top at 100 miles and top speed at 95 mph. The i3′s chassis will be aluminum and the passenger cell made from carbon fiber—BMW says more conventional materials would add as much as 650 pounds to the i3—and the electric motor could be joined by a range-extending internal-combustion engine at some point. The i3 will carry over the BMW core values around rear-wheel drive vehicles. The electric motor will be placed directly above the rear axle.
The car will be previewed next year at the London 2012 Olympics.