BMW is lining up a series of electric and hybrid cars. To support those vehicles, but also to do something it has really never done before -- develop extra-vehicular technology for urban mobility -- the company is launching a sub-brand. The new "BMW i" global brand is going to be as much about BMW's mobility-solutions efforts as new vehicles.
Efforts around the new brand will involve everything from the research on urban mobility and mobile Internet cityscapes to a venture capital arm based in New York that will fund tech startups whose products might change the way people move around cities, the Munich-based company said in a release.
Said Ian Robertson, BMW AG Board member of the new division, during a press conference in Munich this week: "[BMW i] products and services have been conceived around a revolutionary approach: purpose designed and purpose built for sustainable, premium mobility."
But there will also be a portfolio of alternative-powertrain vehicles under the BMW i banner, the first of which are the fully electric BMW i3, which was initially called "MegaCity," and the BMW i8, a plug-in hybrid vehicle.
To support all of this the company will launch a global marketing campaign. BMW teased the new effort this week with a light-show and video projections on the flanks of its architecturally stunning headquarters in Munich. On Tuesday, BMW put up similar displays at the Munich Opera House and other city spaces.
In a departure from the traditional auto-focused advertising of its parent, the BMW i venture will advertise with lifestyle images that will "gradually be complemented with more and more content related to the products," per a company statement.
There is also a new Web site, www.BMW-i.com, showing several films about the generation of the forthcoming BMW i3 and BMW i8 cars from design sketches to engineering principles. The Web site will also have a social media element, mining online debates around developments in urbanization, sustainability and mobility, with links to BMW i's Facebook, YouTube and Twitter fan sites, according to the company.
The company says its new "BMW i Ventures" is set to invest in "highly innovative service providers," The first of these is My City Way, which develops apps for information on public transportation, parking availability, and local entertainment for over 40 cities in the U.S. Another 40 cities will be part of the global rollout, including Munich, of course, according to the automaker.