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BMW leads the auto industry in new-energy vehicles

2015-03-16 13:19 China Daily Web Editor: Si Huan

China's new-energy vehicle industry is booming because of a rising awareness of saving energy, protecting the environment and traveling in an environmentally friendly way.

China sold 74,800 units of all-electric and plug-in hybrid cars last year, 3.2 times more than in 2013. Dozens of new-energy car models were launched in the market last year, giving more choices for environmentally conscious drivers.

Thanks to the Chinese government's strong policy support and car manufacturers' focus on new-energy vehicles, China sold nearly 30,000 plug-in hybrid cars last year, almost nine times the sales of the previous year.

With its global influence on branding and position as an industry leader, German premium car manufacturer BMW Group plays a key role in China's promising new-energy vehicle market.

Industry pioneer

BMW has been researching electric car technology for a long time as it considers saving energy and cutting emissions a social responsibility.

Back to 1972 during the Munich Olympics, BMW's first electric car, the BMW 1602 was already used to lead the Marathon and road walk events. In 2002, the company launched its " EfficientDynamics" strategy, and since then advanced energy-saving technologies were used on all production models. The strategy also set a road map for electric-drive vehicles from 2010 to 2020.

BMW not only earned fame for improving the internal combustion engine with better efficiency, but has also strengthened its research and development of electric cars over the past decade.

In 2008, BMW started the MINI E's world's largest field test in Europe, the United States and China. Together with the BMW Active E, the total distance of the road tests was more than 20 million kilometers.

BMW collected a huge amount of data through those road tests and shared it with governments, industrial organizations and scientific institutions.

Based on the results of those road tests, which showed that most electric car owners drive 40 to 60 km each day, most auto manufacturers have set an electric mileage of 150km on a full charge.

BMW made a historic decision and established the BMW i sub-brand in February 2011 to provide new-energy products and services, and planned to release two new models - the all-electric i3 and plug-in hybrid i8.

The research and development of the two models started in 2007. The models use carbon fiber in their bodies as the material is stronger and lighter than metal. BMW's use of carbon fiber for car bodies is ahead of other auto manufacturers and leads the trend of future auto production.

Carbon fiber has mainly been used in the aviation industry in the past, as it is 50 percent lighter than steel and 30 percent lighter than aluminum.

As the only automaker who can produce carbon fiber on a large scale at present, BMW has a great advantage over its rivals in designing a lighter car.

The BMW i8 and i3 broke the 130-year routine of building cars from metal such as steel and aluminum, and showed the industry a new concept of designing cars constructed of carbon fiber.

Thanks to the superior functions of carbon fiber, the all-electric model i3 weighs only 1.3 metric tons, and can go from zero to 60 km/h in only 3.7 seconds. Moreover, it can cover up to 160 km on a full charge, which fulfills the basic needs of driving in the city and BMW brand's typical driving pleasure.

The plug-in hybrid i8 combines the power of a turbo engine with the efficiency of an electric motor. It only takes 4.4 seconds to go from zero to 100 km/h and its average fuel consumption is 2.1 liters per 100 km.

These functions make the i8 a combination of energy efficiency and driving pleasure, which is the ideal future of new-energy cars.

The BMW i sold 17,800 units worldwide in the last half of 2014, and its supply fell short of demand. China was one of the first countries to launch the BMW i. The cars are available in seven cities - Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Hangzhou and Shenyang.

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