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Beemers go battery for 2012

2011-07-30 20:27

BMW GOES BATTERY: Meet the BMW i3 - it's a pure battery car from the folk in Bavaria and intended for city use - but there's also an i8 if you want to take things further. Image: AP

FRANKFURT, Germany - BMW has launched a battery car and a petrol/battery hybrid, signalling its arrival into a segment vital to the industry's fortunes.

The battery-powered i3 is meant for the urban market and should be on sale in 2012. The hybrid i8 is due for delivery in 2014 and is geared more towards high-performance enthusiasts and customers with a need for inter-city range

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"This is an important milestone in BMW's history," chief executive Norbert Reithofer declared as the vehicles were shown to the media. "We want to offer automobiles made to order, with an electric motor,"


The i8 combines an electric motor and a petrol engine to extend the cars' range but the i3 is strictly or commuting. Each model has an aluminium chassis and a reinforced carbon-fibre body to compensate for the weight of the batteries and the cars will be assembled at a plant in Leipzig, Germany, where the company plans to invest the equivalent of R4-billion and create 800 jobs by 2013.

BMW did not provide prices or proposed production numbers but did emphasise that the cars would be aimed at the premium market.

German media reports have spoken of 30 000 cars a year, which would be well below full-scale production levels, while analysts have warned the cars would not sell well if over-priced - a situation that has already dampened the market in the UK.

BMW finance director Friedrich Eichiner pledged that the cars shown at the launch would "make a contribution" to the group's earnings.

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