BMW unveils electric and hybrid concept cars

Six weeks before the Frankfurt Motor Show, BMW has unveiled concept vehicles that the company hopes will make it a trend-setter in the electric car business.

BMW unveils electric and hybrid concept cars
Photo: DPA

The i3 is a sleek small compact model set to go into production within the next few years. It runs entirely on electric power and should be affordable enough for city-dwelling families, although BMW had not released price estimates.

The sporty i8 may be more interesting to BMW enthusiasts. Also set to be produced in the next two or three years, it is a hybrid sports car that is supposed to have the fuel economy of a compact vehicle.

The cars are part of a planned BMW sub-brand that will be geared to target urban-dwellers that care about the environment and are looking to transition to electric driving in the long-term.

“This car is to show everyone right away that the future has begun now,” BMW Chief Designer Adrian von Hooydonk said, according the website of news magazine Der Spiegel, referring to the i3.

Click here for BMW photo gallery

So far, mainstream distribution of electric cars has been hampered by high prices the necessity of expensive and complicated electric charging equipment and electric vehicles’ lack of agility compared to petrol-powered cars.

But BMW says the i3 will be different. It can hit 100 kilometre per hour in under eight seconds and charges its battery in a standard wall socket – a full charge can be reached in six hours and that time can be cut by 80 percent by use of a special charger.

Although BMW is not yet saying how far an i3 production version be able to drive on a single charge, company officials say its range would be appropriate for 90 percent of people’s normal uses. An optional range-extending petrol engine would allow for longer driving distances by charging a small generator to maintain the car’s battery charge.

The i8, meanwhile, will be able to hit 100 km/h in three seconds and be able to travel 35 kilometres on electric power alone.

The Local/mdm

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Sweden’s parties agree on goal to cut peak power consumption

Sweden's Social Democrat caretaker government has agreed with the incoming Moderates on a goal of cutting peak power consumption by 5 percent as part of an EU scheme.

Sweden's parties agree on goal to cut peak power consumption

Now the election is over, both parties seem willing to consider ways to encourage citizens to reduce power use, an obvious measure to reduce winter power prices that was conspicuously absent from the campaign. 

At the same time, the Moderates are downplaying their election campaign pledge to bring in “high-cost protection” to reimburse citizens for much of the impact of high power costs by the start of November. 

At a meeting of the parliament’s Committee on Industry and Trade, the two parties agreed that both the caretaker Social Democrat government and the incoming Moderate-led government should take action to cut power consumption by between 5 percent and 10 percent. 

“If we succeed in carrying this out on a coordinated EU level, we will be on the way to at the very least halving electricity prices,” Energy minister Khashayar Farmanbar told Sweden’s TT newswire. 

“We stand behind the ambition to reduce consumption,” agreed Carl-Oskar Bohlin, the Moderate Party’s power spokesperson, after a meeting of the committee on Wednesday. 

But he said that meeting the goal would be very much dependent on outside factors, particularly how cold the winter is in Sweden. 

“Then there are questions of how that should happen practically in real terms,” he said. “In Sweden, electricity use is largely dependent on the outside temperature. If we have a mild winter, it will be extremely easy to hit the 5 percent target, if we have a really harsh winter, it might be impossible.”

The Moderates are agreed that the public sector should reduce “unnecessary power consumption”, but have yet to agree on measures that households should take, such as reducing indoor temperatures or turning off the lights. 

At the same time, Bohlin admitted on Wednesday that the high-cost protection that Ulf Kristersson pledged in the campaign by November 1st, may be delayed by the government negotiations. 

“We promised high-cost protection from November 1st, on the condition that a new government was in place rapidly,” he told the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper. “The problem is that Svenska kraftnät [the company that owns and operates Sweden’s power grid], is working to another schedule, one given by the current government.” 

The outgoing Social Democrat government has given Svenska kraftnät until November 15th to propose a system for high-cost protection. The cash paid back to households and businesses would be taken from the bottle-neck income which the grid operator receives as a result of capacity shortages in the network. 

The outgoing Social Democrats have also changed their rhetoric since the end of the campaign .

On September 9th, two days before the election took place, the Social Democrat government framed a meeting of EU ministers on September 9th as a “breakthrough” in the EU negotiations. 

Farmanbar is now describing it as “a process”. 

“What we can promise right now is that we’re going to work as hard as we can to get a breakthrough,” he said.