(Photo by wolfwhite99 on Flickr)
Dr. Norbert Reithofer, chairman of the board at BMW, spent
an entire conference call last week trying to talk investors and insiders off
the proverbial ledge. Reithofer highlighted decreases in pre-tax revenue and
production in the first two quarters of 2009 without offering an updated
revenue projection. BMW’s head executive front loaded the bad news and used the
company’s green-vehicle efforts as an exclamation point for his call. BMW
fleshed out additional plans for its Megacity EV and updated listeners about
its MINI E project.
BMW’s Megacity EV is still a bit murky but the vehicle will be built on a similar platform as the upcoming MINI E. The Megacity EV will
likely be a low-speed vehicle on a small frame to accommodate parallel parking
and tight squeezes in urban environments. BMW is working with the Bosch/Samsung
SDI subsidiary SB LiMotive to supply powerful lithium-ion batteries for the Megacity.
The automaker likely chose SB LiMotive due to its claims that it can create
lithium-ion batteries at two-thirds the price of competing packs. SB LiMotive
is hoping to improve on current battery performance by 40% in the 2012 model
The Megacity EV won’t be hitting European, Asian and
American streets until at least 2013. BMW is facilitating development of the
Megacity under Number ONE Strategy along with the MINI E. The MINI E is an all-electric
car powered by a 35 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. The automaker is currently testing
600 MINI E units in Germany, Great Britain and the United States including 500
units in New York and Los Angeles. These MINI E units are undergoing day-to-day
testing by select consumers keeping diaries on performance, comfort and
reliability. BMW plans to use these diaries as well as lab tests of
the MINI E to inform its development of the Megacity EV.
BMW’s pursuit of its Number ONE Strategy in the midst of
economic torpor shows that developing green vehicles makes good business sense.
The MINI E uses the “new” Mini design popular among drivers while adding an
all-electrical drive system with a 150-mile range. The Megacity EV will be the
second generation of BMW’s Number ONE Strategy and remedy the weaknesses of the
MINI E. BMW’s MINI E and Megacity EV blend the future of clean energy while
keeping the brand’s style. The vague details set forth by Reithofer in this August 4th conference call should not be taken as obfuscation, only caution by an automaker hit by a struggling economy.