BMW launches new brand - and it's coming to a smartphone near you
Tuesday 22 February 2011
BMW launched its new BMW i brand to the media February 21, promising to usher in a new era of individual mobility using electric vehicles and "vehicle independent services."
The premium German automaker announced two vehicles, the i3 and i8, which will be launched from 2013, but what it said about connected services was given almost as much time as the vehicles themselves.
With the all-electric BMW i vehicles expected to appeal to early adopters and the young urbanites who are predicted to drive the uptake of electric vehicles, BMW made a very clear statement that it sees technology as crucial to the success of i, announcing a new division which amounts to a significant new strategy for the automaker.
Through an investment firm, BMW will now fund developers of "mobility services" to build new products such as apps which can then be integrated into the overall BMW i package, both inside and outside the vehicle.
This isn't the first time an automaker has announced a new focus on apps - Ford and General Motors and Japanese auto giant Toyota are all working feverishly to integrate the automotive experience with mobile technology - but it is an unusually frank assessment of the importance mobility services will have in tomorrow's transport.
BMW's Ian Robertson said that the first solutions would look at areas such as public transport, mapping, car sharing services, car parking usage and other location-based services.
Its first commercial partnership is with New York-based My City Way, an app which provides information on everything from cinemas to shopping for 40 US cities and is now partially owned by BMW.
At the press event, BMW revealed the My City Way will bring its guides to 40 more cities in Europe, including the automaker's hometown, Munich, Germany.
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