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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Norwegian battery start-up Freyr demands subsidies to complete factory

The Freyr battery start-up has halted construction of its Giga Arctic factory and demanded additional government subsidies, Norway's state broadcaster NRK has reported.

Norwegian battery start-up Freyr demands subsidies to complete factory

Jan Arve Haugan, the company’s operations director, told the broadcaster that the company would not order any more equipment until Norway’s government committed to further subsidies. 

“We are holding back further orders for prefabricated steel and concrete pending clarification on further progress,” he said. “We are keen to move forward, but we have to respect that there is a political process going on, and we have expectations that words will be put into action.” 

Freyr in April 2019 announced its plans to build the 17 billion kroner Giga Arctic in Mo i Rana, and has so far received 4 billion kroner in loans and loan guarantees from the Norwegian government. It has already started construction and hopes to complete the build by 2024-2025. 

Haugan said that the enormous subsidies for green industry in the Inflation Reduction Act voted through in the US in 2022 had changed the playing field for companies like Freyr, meaning Norway would need to increase the level of subsidies if the project was to be viable. 

Freyr in December announced plans for Giga America, a $1.3bn facility which it plans to build in Coweta, Georgia.   

“What the Americans have done, which is completely exceptional, is to provide very solid support for the renewable industry,” Haugen said. “This changes the framework conditions for a company like Freyr, and we have to take that into account.” 

Jan Christian Vestre, Norway’s industry minister, said that the government was looking at what actions to take to counter the impact of the Inflation Reduction Act, but said he was unwilling to get drawn into a subsidy battle with the US. 

“The government is working on how to upgrade our instruments and I hope that we will have further clarifications towards the summer,” he said.

“We are not going to imitate the Americans’ subsidy race. We have never competed in Norway to be the cheapest or most heavily subsidised. We have competed on competence, Norwegian labour, clean and affordable energy and being world champions in high productivity.”