BMW reveals vehicle strategy for 2012 Olympics – and pops a little surprise

Pure-electric BMW 1-Series ActiveE will be part of the 4000-strong fleet being supplied by BMW for the 2012 Olympics

By Gavin Conway on July 14, 2011 4:58 PM

As the automotive partner for the 2012 Olympics, BMW will be supplying a staggering 4000 vehicles for use during the Games. And because ‘sustainability’ and low emissions is one of the requirements of the Games organisers, BMW will be aiming for a fleet average CO2 output of 120g/km or less.

To help achieve that ambitious target, there will be 200 pure electric vehicles on duty during the Games. That includes 160 pure-electric BMW 1-Series ActiveEs and 40 MINI Es.

BMW’s announcement this week also marked the first time that the 1-Series ActiveE has been seen on UK soil. As with the MINI E, the ActiveE will be trialled in markets throughout the word, with over 1000 being manufactured this year – by comparison, 900 MINI Es were built.

This is all part of the run up to 2013, when we’ll see BMW’s electric sub-brand – BMW i, with the slightly unsettling slogan ‘Born Electric’ – come to fruition with the launch of production versions of the i3 and i8. The i3 is a 100-mile range supermini whilst the i8 is a much more obvious carrier of BMW DNA – a plug-in hybrid with supercar dimensions and very high performance.

Ian Robertson, BMW’s Global Sales and Marketing Director, said that within the decade, at least 50% of all new cars would have an element of electric propulsion, whether that be full electric, hybrid, plug-in hybrid or range extended. He also stressed that petrol and diesel engines would continue to become more efficient.

But he could barely contain his enthusiasm for the i8, saying to “I’ve driven the i8 quite a lot, and you  know, this is what the next generation of sportscars will be about.”

BMW will be running ultra frugal ‘EfficientDynamics’ versions of its 3-Series during the Games, as well as diesel MINIs, to help it hit that emissions target. But it will also be using 5-Series ActiveHybrids with Auto Start Stop and brake energy regeneration. That car will be going on sale in the UK next year, possibly even before the Games get underway in July 2012.

And BMW did spring a surprise – riding straight up through the assembled journalists came a little bike that looked a bit like a Brompton folding bicycle. Still wearing a disguise over its powerpack, the BMW Pedelec is a prototype electric bike with a top speed of 18mph – possibly more if you pedal like a fiend. Like the Brompton, it’ll fold up so users can take it on Tube and train. There will be 200 of the little beasts doing duty at the Games, and BMW has said it intends to bring it to market.