Many automobile manufacturers will mark their various production models with technical-sounding designations intended to distinguish the vehicle from the brand’s other models. For BMW, this practice results in a family of vehicles precisely divided and recognized according to class specifications, as in the case of the 2, 3, 4 and 5 series models, the X-Series line of SUV’s, and realized more complexly in vehicles like the BMW M760Li xDrive and M240i. M240i? This might look more like code or some sort of cryptic designation, but we assure you, it isn’t. While some combinations of letters and numbers that badge BMW’s seem daunting, understanding what they signify is pretty straightforward. In the interest of clarifying how the badge that a BMW features indicates its class and other features, we at Edmonton BMW decided to take on the example of the BMW i and enlighten consumers as to what, exactly, this mysterious “i” stands for, and what it says about the car that dons it.
Why the “i”?
The BMW i sub-brand was founded in 2011 with the mission of designing and eventually manufacturing and marketing plug-in electric vehicles. Initially BMW’s plans called for the release of two vehicles; the all-electric i3 and the plug-in i8 hybrid. Borne out of “Project i” (the BMW-driven initiative intended to create lightweight eco-friendly urban electric car concepts in order to address the mobility and sustainability needs), the BMW i sub-brand was developed in response to the changing lifestyle needs and preferences of people in today’s megacities.
“Project i” has three phases; the Mini E demonstration was the first phase of this project, and was followed by similar field testing beginning in January 2012 with the BMW ActiveE all-electric vehicle conceived and built with knowledge gained from testing of the Mini E. The last phase of “Project i” was the development of the i3 and i8 electric cars.
The BMW i
The “i” that features in the designations of BMW vehicles such as the i3 and i8 then signifies BMW’s innovative forays in the world of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Featuring an aluminum chassis and design materials like carbon-fibre reinforced plastic and polycarbonate glass, both vehicles representing the results of BMW’s “Project i” benefit from reduced overall weight and consequently boast competitive performance and handling statistics that help them to stand out in a growing luxury sport-hybrid vehicle market.
Why not “i’?
Hopefully this post has taken some of the confusion out of not only understanding the various badges that designate different models of BMW vehicles, but of how to decipher differentiating badge signage across other brands, as well. Whether a letter or number or combination of both, when they appear on the rear or side of a vehicle, they’re meant to signify some modification or advancement exclusive to that model. When it comes to the “i” in BMW i, you’re meant to recognize that the car bearing that letter is either an electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle. Interested in learning more? At BMW Edmonton, our team of BMW professionals are more than happy to go into greater depth, not only about the BMW i, but about other BMW letter-series as well, like the X and M-Series. See you on the road!