Companies

BMW-‘i' may drive into India if demand thrives

Roudra Bhattacharya Recently in Munich | Updated on March 21, 2011




German automaker BMW may look to launch the ‘i' sub-brand in India if there is substantial demand for electric and hybrid cars over the next few years, a company official said.

Recently unveiled for the European and US markets, the BMW-i will be led by the launch of the ‘i3 Megacity', a four-seater, rear-wheel drive, electric car in 2013 followed by the i8 plug-in hybrid sports car. The new sub-brand will target the premium-end of the electric and hybrid car market and focus on sustainable vehicle solutions through the use of carbon-fibre for lower weight and more efficient drive train technologies.

“We have launched BMW-i like the BMW-M brand to tap into the next premium category. It is important for us to try new things in technology, production and concepts. Our products are designed for all markets and if there is adequate demand, BMW-i may come to India as well,” said a senior official.

The BMW-i brand is born out of ‘Project-i', a company initiative that started in 2007 to develop alternate vehicle technologies for commercial production. In 2008, the company ran tests on a fleet of 600 Mini E compacts followed by the 1,000 plus units of the ActiveE concept in this year. Besides electric and hybrid drive-trains, the brand also uses carbon fibre reinforced plastic, which is lighter, stronger and more corrosion-resistant than steel and aluminium.

As for India, the German carmaker expects to maintain double-digit growth in 2011. It is also studying the launch of the new Mini brand. “We see potential for the Mini but it is a huge investment for the factory and dealer network. On motorcycles, even Husqvarna has potential though it is present in larger engine sizes,” said BMW AG Board Member, Sales and Marketing, Mr Ian Robertson.

“We expect to see strong double-digit growth in India this year. We have taken a decision to increase production capacity to 10,000 units. We only sold 6,200 last year but if the market continues to grow at the same pace, we will see those numbers a little earlier,” he added.

>roudra.b@thehindu.co.in

Published on March 21, 2011

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