It has been known for quite some time now that BMW has plans for a sub brand, something like the M division. It’s out of the box now, and it’s called ‘i’. BMW i is a sub brand focused on developing sustainable mobility solutions and will encompass electric vehicles.

Two models will be launched under i from 2013 – the BMW i3 and BMW i8. The BMW Group will also significantly expand its range of mobility services over the years ahead. To achieve this, a Venture Capital company was founded in New York, BMW i Ventures, with investment totalling up to 100 million USD.

The BMW i3 – previously known as the Megacity Vehicle – will be the BMW Group’s first series-produced car for urban areas to be driven by electric power alone. The i8, meanwhile, is based on the BMW Vision EfficientDynamics concept study. Its plug-in hybrid drive “blends the sporting ability of a high-performance machine with the fuel consumption and emissions of a small car” according to Munich.

i cars will still wear BMW logos, but with a blue ring circling them. The range will also be distinguished by blue grille surrounds, aerodynamic side skirts, “stream flow C-pillars” and “large but narrow” wheels.

Both models are based on a groundbreaking construction concept known as LifeDrive architecture. An aluminium chassis houses the powertrain, and the passenger cell consists of high-strength but extremely lightweight carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP).

Both i3 and i8 will be built in BMW’s Leipzig plant, which will receive 400 million euros of investment. Development and production synergies will be achieved as both vehicles will share component sets for the electric motors, power electronics and lithium-ion batteries.

“Both cars have been designed specifically for their respective alternative drive systems. We used the innovative architecture and CFRP to cancel out practically all of the extra weight added by the batteries. For our customers this means superior driving dynamics combined with significantly increased range using electric power,” explains Klaus Draeger, BMW board member responsible for development.

An additional range of mobility services – which can also be used independently of the cars – will be an integral component of BMW i. They’re talking about things like improve usage of existing parking spaces, intelligent navigation systems with local information, intermodal route planning and premium car-sharing.

“Mobility requirements are changing in rapidly expanding megacities. Our commitment to car-enabled mobility services, like BMW ConnectedDrive, will be significantly expanded under BMW i,” said Ian Robertson, member of the Board of Management responsible for Sales and Marketing.

Gallery after the jump.

[zenphotopress number=999 album=1976]