BMW 'i' range announced

  • Two all-new vehicles by BMW in 2013
  • One full electric city car and one plug-in hybrid sports car
  • £62m invested in New York-based 'sub-brand'

BMW has launched a new eco ‘sub-brand' under which it plans to launch two new models in 2013.

Focusing on sustainable energy, the ‘i' range will comprise i3 and the i8 models and they'll represent the German manufacturer's first tentative steps into the electric vehicle market.

The i3 is a small city car based on the Megacity Vehicle, a concept car launched last year. It'll be electric-only and is likely to have a range of around 125 miles between charges.

The i8 is a sportier proposition, based on the BMW Vision EfficientDynamics concept study. It's a plug-in hybrid and boasts high performance with the emissions and fuel economy of a small car.

Both cars will be built around a design known as ‘LifeDrive' architecture. A lightweight chassis and passenger compartment constructed from high-tech materials means the weight penalty typically associated with electric vehicle battery packs is cancelled out.

To support the sub-brand, BMW has invested 100 million US dollars (£62m) in a Venture Capital company called BMW i Ventures in New York City.