BMW AG introduced its BMW i3 electric vehicle and BMW i8 plug-in hybrid Monday as the first models to be sold under its new so-called "i" subbrand. Both cars will arrive in 2013 and will be built at BMW's plant in Leipzig, eastern Germany, the automaker said in a release.
"BMW i represents a new movement in premium mobility," BMW sales and marketing boss Ian Robertson said in the release. "With the introduction of this new subbrand, the BMW Group reaffirms its leadership as the most innovative and sustainable premium car company."
BMW joins Audi in creating a separate brand for cars with alternative powertrains. Audi's subbrand for electric cars is called E-tron. The first model from the subbrand is expected to be a battery-powered version of the R8 supercar due in 2012.
Automakers are under pressure to reduce CO2 emissions ahead of tougher rules in Europe that start to take effect in 2012. The competition is particularly fierce at premium automakers such as BMW, Audi and Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz because the German rivals have the double challenge of reducing their high overall fleet emissions while also trying to stay ahead of each other in launching the latest technology.