BMW has big plans for New York. The company, which a couple of weeks ago launched its BMW venture-capital program in the city, will spend $60 million to revamp its dealership on the West Side and build a new Mini store nearby. Both will be sustainability showcases, with things like solar panels, heat-exchangers, low-flow plumbing and regionally sourced materials. They will also have electric-vehicle charging stations and service bays to deal with such forthcoming alternative-power train vehicles as the BMW i3 and i8 cars the company has coming to the U.S. under its BMW i banner.
The company used its flagship New York store to unveil the ActiveE electric vehicle. Rich Steinberg, manager of electric vehicle operations and strategy at BMW North America, said the car follows and was inspired by the company's Mini E program that brought 450 electric Mini cars to the U.S. "From that, we have gained vital information about how e-vehicles work," he said. "The ActiveE is the second step in our mobility plan."
As part of that plan, the metro areas of New York, Boston, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and Sacramento will get 700 of the vehicles as two-year leases offered at $499 per month with a $2,250 downpayment.
Steinberg said the company is also touting ActiveE and other electric and alternative programs under the BMW i banner on Facebook, Twitter, the Web site "Activate the Future" (BMWActivateTheFuture.com) and YouTube. The digital program includes four documentary-style videos about the future of mobility.
The company is also launching a new smartphone app called BMW Evolve, which Steinberg said is intended to help drivers determine whether their habits and lifestyle are compatible to driving an electric vehicle. He said it doesn't market BMW specifically. "We think it is the first app from an OEM that is vehicle-agnostic," he said, adding that the app is also intended to inform BMW about what consumers want from such vehicles. "As drivers use the app, their data will be input for the next electric vehicle."
Peter Miles, EVP of operations for BMW North America, said combined sales for the first three months were up 18%, and that the company is "in the midst of a product offensive," as 60% of all vehicles it sells will be renewed by 2012.