Business / Auto China

BMW's new breed of luxury cars: strong, powerful, clean and green

By Hao Yan (China Daily) Updated: 2016-09-06 07:43
BMW's new breed of luxury cars: strong, powerful, clean and green

BMW executives present their new energy models at a press conference in Chengdu. From left: Liu Zhi, president of BMW China Automotive Trading Ltd; Olaf Kastner, president and CEO of BMW Group Region China; and Jochen Goller, senior vice-president of sales and marketing of BMW Brilliance Automotive Co Ltd. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The stunning new energy BMW i family of vehicles had added sheer driving pleasure to sustainable e-mobility, while the celebrated BMW M series has combined high-performance technology with its reinforced sports heritage.

Following the product plan under BMW Group's Strategy Number One > Next, which was announced earlier this year, the company's centenary year, the premium positioning of the group's core brand, BMW, is consolidating its leadership in the luxury class.

BMW is strengthening its position as one of the world's largest maker of sustainable cars at the luxury end, with six new energy vehicles being unveiled at the BMW New Energy Vehicle press conference on Sept 1 in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province.

"BMW is bringing top-level technologies to China as quickly as possible, as we respond in a timely manner to the developing demands," said Olaf Kastner, president and CEO, BMW Group Region China.

"Both BMW i and M promote driving pleasure and fuel the ultimate driving experience. They boost our brand attractiveness and differentiate us from the rest."

The sub-brand "i", the carmaker's common ground for innovation, incubates advanced technologies such as autonomous driving, connectivity and light weight.

"BMW is going to have a peerless lineup of luxury new energy vehicles in the country," Kastner said. "Our PHEVs (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) and EVs are defining industry standards in terms of safety, driving performance and intelligent energy management."

The German luxury carmaker will have nine new energy models, including plug-in hybrids and fully electric cars, on the Chinese market by the end of the year, the company announced.

The new energy lineups are now part of the BMW iPerformance family powered by eDrive electrification technology. The "i" refers to innovation and "Performance" is the essence of BMW's car-making philosophy of delivering driving pleasure.

The iPerformance product applies the latest technologies without sacrificing excellent dynamic performance. The new flagship saloon 7 Series plug-in hybrid, i8 Protonic Red Edition sports car and the compact i3 Battery Upgrade have just been launched onto the market at the BMW new energy vehicle press conference. The locally produced all-new BMW X1 Plug-in Hybrid also made its world premiere there.

BMW's new breed of luxury cars: strong, powerful, clean and green

Olaf Kastner, president and CEO, BMW Group Region China, speaks at the event. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Electrifying driving pleasure

BMW's core models will have iPerformance new energy versions very soon, Kastner told China Daily. Altogther, BMW has already launched five electric and plug-in hybrid models in eight varients: the BMW i3 with three variants, the BMW i8 with two variants, the 740Le with two variants, and the X5 xDrive 40e.

"Customers want to enjoy driving with less noise and full torque acceleration, as well as taking on the responsibility for environmental friendliness," he said. "So we took the energy-saving technologies over to the core models, to serve the demands of varied segments."

Shortly after the birth of award-winning new energy sports car i8, its hybrid technologies - not only eDrive, but also the use of carbon fiber, laser light and intelligent energy management - have been successfully transferred to a wider range of products. The BMW i3 is a successful new energy star in the worldwide premium compact segment. As an ideal inner city commuting car, the i3 Battery Upgrade with a substantially higher mileage range now reaches 200 kilometers, after the capacity of its battery pack was expanded by 50 percent to 33 kilowatt-hours.

The BMW 740Le PHEV is capable of full electric driving in urban areas, and relieves the driver of mileage concerns for trips out of town. The carmaker believes the 740Le PHEV is the perfect choice for customers who are very concerned about environmental issues and also want a fine driving experience.

The all-new BMW X1 Plug-in Hybrid, the brand's first domestically produced Plug-in Hybrid SAV, flawlessly integrates the groundbreaking BMW i electric power technology with the intelligent xDrive all-wheeldrive system.

Beyond the products, BMW also aims to bring its e-mobility service to premium level. BMW is building connected charging pillars in major cities across China, with a target of 1,500 ChargeNow stations by the end of this year, of which 1,000 have been installed already.

Strategy triangle

"For BMW i, safety is a very important aspect," Kastner said. "BMW can be relied on to offer the utmost safety in the electrified powertrain.

"BMW's electrification strategy triangle consists of three aspects: safety, pleasure to drive, and mileage. The safety and pleasure to drive are emphasized more than the mileage."

To prevent the new energy powertrain from outside impact, BMW has constructed the shell with very sturdy materials, including carbon fiber. In an accident, the strong frame protects the battery against damage, cracks or leaks.

Inside a new energy BMW i, the electric module consists of several packs that are formed by a number of small individual batteries. Besides requiring top quality consistency in the batteries, they are programmed to work without affecting each other, so that if one battery stops working it will not affect the safe running of the car's whole system.

An intelligent management system monitors energy flow in the electric powertrain, while BMW's self-developed liquid cooling system constantly lowers the temperature of the battery module to ensure new energy BMWs are free of fire hazards.

"BMW will not risk safety or sacrifice driving pleasure for more mileage," Kastner said. "We will not simply double the battery, but find the balance point in the triangle of the three aspects."

Continuous growth

Celebrating the centenary of BMW Group this year, sales of BMW and Mini vehicles have reached more than 330,000 units on the Chinese mainland, the group's largest market. The volume jumped 10 percent when compared with the first eight months of last year.

Every localized BMW model has achieved splendid success, with the BMW 5 Series maintaining the lead in its segment, and the BMW 3 Series selling more than 10,000 units a month. The imported BMW also kept its steady growth, with its sales volume in China climbing 7.5 percent in the first half of this year, despite a slowdown in the imported car market in China.

BMW Group achieved a new July sales record with 180,080 vehicles delivered to customers around the world, an increase of 4 percent over the same month last year.

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