BMW made an announcement of its plans to start a new research division dubbed the Project i in March of last year to develop a number of solutions for vehicles intended for use in congested city streets.
The original intent for Project I was not just to come up with one type of vehicle or another but with a range of technologies the carmaker can introduce across its fleet or even come up with a fourth brand as the rumors emerging say.
After more than one year later, Project i is going full speed ahead and is coming out with its first products including the recently released Mini-E which the carmaker will utilize to gather data concerning what city customers require and need from a car with a zero-emissions level. BMW will release a range of almost-zero emission cars in the succeeding couple of years.
A new range of cars under the Megacity name will be the next specific platform that Project i will bring about and will encompass both all-electric models along with high efficiency combustion powerplants like the small turbocharged diesel and gasoline engines.
It is reported that the first of these models will be a compact hatch that will be smaller and come with lesser price than the Mini Cooper and 1-series. There is a move by BMW to change its focus from expensive niche vehicles, such as the dead X7 fullsize SUV and a new super-sports car model, to mass-production environment-friendly cars.
According to BMW the first Project i car will be a three-door hatchback intended particularly for the markets of the United States where it will meet the Zero-Emission-Vehicle (ZEV) standards of California that call for automakers with large volume production capabilities to offer Zero Emission Vehicles by 2012.
BMW furthermore says that with the Megacity vehicles they are engaging in a radical strategy toward creating a genuinely sustainable value series from development to production and sales.
The new car will accommodate four adults and will be propelled by an electric motor powered by water-cooled lithium-ion batteries.
The car will come with BMW-like styling, including short overhangs, a broad track and a low roof. It will be a global model which will be followed eventually by both gasoline and diesel. Further reports indicate that Project i will later come up with a new Z2 Roadster, a motorbike and C1 scooter replacement.