The stats and facts around the rise of the BMW i brand and how it’s reshaping the marque’s business...

We recently attended the local launch of the updated BMW i range, which includes the mildest of facelifts to the i3, a tweak of the i8 coupé’s electric motor maximum output (the 1,5 turbopetrol engine remains unchanged), and the introduction of the i8 Roadster that shares the coupé’s uprated powertrain.

On the day, however, a Cape winter storm put pay to any open-topped or enthusiastic driving, which meant a driving impression of the i8 wouldn’t do justice to either derivative. Besides, we drove the Roadster at its international launch in Spain and you can read about that here.

The i3 merely receives styling updates that include a new black finish for the A-pillars, fresh exterior paint options, LED headlamps as standard, restyled front (with new LED indicators) and rear aprons, some added chrome … and an update to its pricing. You read more about that here.

What the launch did do, however, was remind us just how far the BMW i brand has come in the decade since it was first conceived…

2007: The BMW Group board assigns “Project i” to rethink the marque’s traditional car business.

2008: Launch of Mini E and largest field trial in automotive history to help define the optimum electric car.

2011: Launch of BMW i brand name.

2013: World premiere of i3 and i8 production models at the Frankfurt show in September. We drove the former at its international launch in November of that year.

2014: i8 series production begins and we drive it in May of that year.

2015: Launch of BMW i in South Africa; market shares of BMW i in the electrified vehicle segment begin exceeding those of BMW mother brand in several markets.

2016: BMW launches the iPerformance sub-brand to include the plug-in hybrid versions of its 3, 5 and 7 series sedans, as well as its X5 SUV and 2 Series Active Tourer; the iNext is announced – a Jaguar i-Pace, Audi e-tron, Tesla Model X-rivalling sedan/coupé/SUV crossover EV set to go on sale in 2021.

2017: The combined global sales of BMW i and iPerformance vehicles exceed those of BMW M and M Performance derivatives.

And in the next 3 years…

2019: The Mini EV will be launched.

2020: An all-electric X3 will go on sale.

2021: The BMW iNext will hit showroom floors. It will be the brand’s new technology flagship that, for the first time in a series-production model, promises to combine electro-mobility with autonomous driving and new interior connectivity options.
BMW i3

BMW i … By the numbers

54: Number of countries in which BMW i is represented.

1: Position jointly occupied by the BMW Group and Tesla as having sold the most EVs globally. This equates to 10% market share for each.

50: Percentage market share the i8 has in the hybrid sportscar segment.

10 000: Fully electric and plug-in hybrid BMW Group vehicles sold in Germany in 2017.

100 000: Number of BMW i, iPerformance and Mini vehicles with fully electric or plug-in hybrid drive systems delivered to customers in 2017.

140 000: Number of BMW i, iPerformance and Mini vehicles with fully electric or plug-in hybrid drive systems the BMW Group is aiming to sell in 2018.

130 000: Number of "ChargeNow" charging points across 32 countries.

38: Number of BMW i dealerships in South Africa.

57: Number of current public access BMW i charging points in SA. This includes BMW i dealerships and various malls and offices, but doesn’t include private individual-owned charging points.

97: Number of public access BMW i charging points expected to be available in South Africa by the end of 2018.

272: Number of i3s sold in SA since launch in 2015.

244: Number of i8s sold in SA since launch in 2015.

160 000: Kilometres covered by one South African owner using his i3 REx’s original battery pack.