BMW relies on technology to hold off rivals Mercedes-Benz and Audi and keep the first spot as the world’s largest premium automaker.

Herbert Diess, BMW’s R&D boss, will be the one to lead the automaker’s technology push. He will oversee the launch of the i3 EV and the introduction of a modular engine family and a new front-wheel-drive architecture. Diess said that in the following five years the share of smaller vehicles in BMW Group sales in the entire world will go up 40%, from under 30% the current level.

Regarding the LifeDrive architecture for the low-emission i vehicles, Diess said that it will not be used for conventional cars, as it makes sense only in plug-in and electric vehicles, where the size of the battery can be reduced, the most expensive component of the vehicle. The company plans to launch the first engine in 2014, a three-cylinder unit which will be the first application.

“The optional range extender will almost double the range of the BMW i3. We do not think that a substantial share of customers will really need the range extender. It is more of an issue for those who have not yet had a chance to use an electric car. After a few days, they usually discover that a base range of 160km is sufficient to limit recharging to about two times a week,” said Diess about the i3 EV range.

Source: Automotive News Europe


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