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BMW unveils "i" sub-brand for battery-powered cars

by Kelly MacNeil on February 22, 2011

As oil prices continue to rise and more people are concerned with the environment, many automakers have been wondering how to design an effective and sustainable car. BMW has recently taken a definitive step forward with BMW i, a line of battery-powered cars – known as Megacity vehicles – that will be available by 2013, according to The New York Times.

At a recent meeting that was also broadcast on the internet, the company talked in detail about the specific design of the "i" brand, which will offer two different cars that have been in development since 2007.

The i3 will be a four-seat vehicle created for metropolitan settings while the i8 is intended to be a hybrid sports car that can reach 60mph in five seconds while consuming the same amount of fuel as a subcompact.

Both cars will have built-in computers that can download applications such as the program being developed by MyCityWay, which helps locate parking in New York City. The trademark BMW grill design will also be featured on each vehicle.

That may not be the end of the "i" line either.

"There is room for more products," said Klaus Dräger, the head of development, according to the news source.

The market for battery-powered cars may become more popular in the coming years. Nissan's flagship electric car, the Leaf, has become such an in-demand vehicle that the company has had to put a halt on all incoming orders, according to USA Today.

There are currently 27,000 orders for the Leaf, which have outpaced the 6,000 that the company has created thus far. Starting on April 1, Nissan will be creating another 50,000.

The company also has plans to expand the number of public chargers, which may help BMW sell the "i" line as well. By the end of 2011, there are expected to be 12,000 public chargers in 19 different states, according to The International Business Times.

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