“When you get your driver’s licenses in 10 years you will drive an electric BMW,” Norbert Reithofer, chief executive of BMW, said to the children of workers at the automaker’s factory in Leipzig, Germany, on Friday.
BMW is spending $568 million to expand its plant there — and creating around 800 jobs — for the serial production of its new Megacity electric car line, reports Jack Ewing of The New York Times.
The inauguration event on Friday drew a curious pairing of dignitaries, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the governor of Washington state, Chris Gregoire. A new plant in Lake Moses, Wash., will produce the carbon-fiber reinforced polymer for the Megacity’s passenger compartment.
“With this vehicle we are revolutionizing automotive design and production and offering our customers the first purpose-built electric vehicle for urban areas,” said Mr. Reithofer in a statement. “This will be the world’s first volume-produced car with a passenger compartment made from lightweight C.F.R.P., as less weight enables a longer range.”
BMW intends to have the first Megacity vehicle — it will become a sub-brand of the BMW Group, like Mini — on sale in 2013.
Adrian van Hooydonk, the BMW Group’s design chief, said, “We have never been this open about an ongoing development process. We sense a hunger for information.”
According to Mr. van Hooydonk, the design of the car will have some existing BMW design cues, as well as some new elements.
“People will see that it’s a BMW,” Mr. van Hooydonk said, “but they will also see that it’s a BMW like no other.”By RICHARD S. CHANG/NYT