The First-Ever 2019 BMW i8 Roadster and new 2019 BMW i8 Coupe

  • The BMW i8 Roadster: two-seater with full electric convertible top that opens in under 16 seconds.
  • Optimized BMW eDrive technology: more power– total output increased to 369 hp (+12 hp), a refined high-voltage battery with increased capacity and range.
  • The BMW i8 Roadster: emotion-stirring design promises an intense driving experience and unadulterated freedom.
  • New exterior colors E-Copper and Donnington Grey.
  • New Tera World Copper with E-Copper upholstery.
  • Carbon Fiber Interior Trim.

Woodcliff Lake, NJ – November 29 2017… Today, the allure of sustainable driving is poised to enter another new dimension as BMW introduced the first-ever BMW i8 Roadster matching BMW eDrive technology with the Ultimate Driving Machine. The first-ever BMW i8 Roadster takes the BMW i8’s combination of locally emission-free mobility, high-caliber performance and adds the top-down driving experience. The Roadster offers a whole new sensation of freedom, opening the door to virtually silent driving with zero CO2 emissions and bringing an extra edge of purity to open-air driving. An optimized BMW eDrive technology means more power – total output increased to 369 hp (+12 hp), a refined high-voltage battery with increased capacity and range, the first-ever BMW i8 Roadster and BMW i8 Coupe can cover up to 18 miles (preliminary) in purely electric driving. With hybrid-specific all-wheel drive, combustion engine driving the rear wheels and the electric motor driving the front wheels, acceleration 0 to 60 mph takes just 4.2/4.4 seconds (preliminary) Coupe and Roadster respectively with both reaching an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.

Following the world premiere of the first-ever 2019 BMW i8 Roadster at the Los Angeles Auto Show 2017, sales will commence in spring 2018. Simultaneously, the new 2019 BMW i8 Coupe will also be available at certified BMW centers with both models offering LifeDrive vehicle architecture designed for BMW i cars. Price to be announced closer to market launch.

Vehicle concept and driving experience.
The BMW i8 has performed the role of sports car of the future with extraordinary success since 2014. The progressively designed 2+2-seater doubles up as an eye-catching object of desire and a technological pioneer. Indeed, the BMW i8 has been the world’s best-selling hybrid sports car since it first hit the roads in 2014 and has collected an array of awards in recognition of its visionary design and trailblazing vehicle concept. The BMW i8’s plug-in hybrid drive system has won the International Engine of the Year Award three years in succession (2015 – 2017) and paved the way for the constantly expanding number of plug-in hybrid models from the BMW and MINI brands.

The aluminum Drive module combines the powertrain, high-voltage battery, suspension, crash system and structural functions, while the Life module takes the form of a passenger cell made out of carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP). The first-ever BMW i8 Roadster also benefits from a light-weight construction, complete with low center of gravity and even weight distribution. The aerodynamically optimized exterior – with model-specific gullwing doors and a soft-top roof that also displays great visual lightness – is a fine exponent of the signature BMW i design language. The result is a two-seater boasting a distinctive and elegantly silhouette, and delivering an immediate promise of instantaneous power ready to be unleashed.

The BMW i8 Roadster: two-seater with electrically operated soft-top roof and additional on-board storage space.
Passengers inside the first-ever BMW i8 Roadster can either enjoy the open sky or a high-quality, all-season fabric soft-top with additional soundproofing. The electrically operated convertible top, opens and closes in less than 16 seconds and while the vehicle is in motion at up to 31 mph.

The BMW i8 Roadster is alone among its rivals in offering owners a fabric soft-top which stows away into a perpendicular position in the rear when opened and therefore takes up very little space. The three segments of the roof fold vertically in a ‘Z’. Additional storage space between the roof box and the seats for the driver and front passenger is around 3.5 ft3 (preliminary figure). In combination with the storage area in the rear, which can accommodate 4.7 ft3 cargo, the rear compartment helps to ensure the open-top version of the plug-in hybrid sports car is also as well equipped as possible for everyday use.

Opening the roof raises the rear window automatically by around 1.9 inches into a comfort position. By raising the rear window, the air flow is guided towards the rear, reducing wind turbulence optimizing the passenger’s experience. The driver can adjust the height of the rear window at the touch of a button to control the impact of the inflowing air as desired.

Intelligent lightweight design and innovative production technology also play a key role in the construction of the soft-top. For example, aluminum elements connecting the roof mechanism with the body of the first-ever BMW i8 Roadster are produced in a new 3D printing process. This manufacturing method for aluminum components breaks new ground in the automotive industry and allows the topologically optimized bracings to be produced in a geometric form, which would not be possible using conventional casting techniques and ensures an optimal balance between component rigidity and weight.

Optimized BMW eDrive technology: more power, increased range; electric driving experience raised another notch.
Rigorously developed BMW eDrive technology powers both the first-ever BMW i8 Roadster and new BMW i8 Coupe. The number of driving situations where the electric motor is solely responsible for powering the car has been significantly increased. By contrast, the combustion engine is only brought into play when accelerating hard, and is switched off again far more frequently with a measured driving style. The optimized operating strategy of the intelligent energy management highlights the future-focused character of the new BMW i8 Coupe and ensures that drivers of the first-ever BMW i8 Roadster can enjoy silent open-top driving with zero local emissions.

Underpinning this new level of locally emission-free electric mobility is the updated version of the lithium-ion battery developed for the BMW i8. The high-voltage unit is located centrally in the car’s underbody and its cell capacity is up from 20 to 34 Ah and gross energy capacity from 7.1 to 11.6 kilowatt hours (kWh, net energy capacity: 9.4 kWh). Plus, the cell configuration allows a 12 hp increase in peak output to 141 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, lacing quick sprints on pure-electric power with an even sharper streak of dynamism.

The electric range of the i8 has also been increased. The first-ever BMW i8 Roadster and BMW i8 Coupe can cover up to 18 miles (preliminary) in purely electric driving. And that broadens the reach of all-electric mobility well beyond the city limits.

Design.
The BMW i8 is the world’s first sports car to be developed from the outset primarily under the banner of sustainability. Groundbreaking lightweight design, systematic improvement of aerodynamics and advanced plug?in hybrid technology. The framework for the concept’s implementation was provided by the brand new LifeDrive vehicle architecture for BMW i models, whose horizontally split structure comprising an aluminum chassis and a CFRP passenger cell offers an exceptional degree of design freedom. The visionary styling of the BMW i8 Coupe therefore succeeds in expressing not just the car’s dynamic performance credentials, but also its outstanding efficiency. A string of prestigious accolades, including the iF Design Award and the Red Dot Award, testify to the design’s quality and allure. And the BMW i8 Roadster translates the unmistakable BMW i design language to another vehicle concept, fusing the dynamic proportions of the i8 with signature roadster features to give it a character all of its own.

Their proportions, lines and surface design mark out the BMW i8 Coupe and the BMW i8 Roadster as belonging to a new breed of sports car. A flat hood, visible aerodynamics measures, short overhangs, a long wheelbase, large track widths and an elongated roofline create an aura of dynamism, lightness and efficiency. On an individual level, meanwhile, the BMW i8 Coupe stands out as an extremely sporty 2+2-seater, while the first-ever BMW i8 Roadster exudes the freedom of open-top motoring for two.

The BMW i8 Roadster: emotion-stirring design promises an intense driving experience and unadulterated freedom.
The design of the BMW i8 Roadster is awash with individual highlights that radiate elegance. The soft-top roof has a visual lightness to go with its low physical weight and serves as a defining element of the silhouette in reinforcing the road-hugging impression made by the car’s low center of gravity. The body’s dynamic wedge shape can also be best appreciated when viewing the two-seater in profile.

When opened, the BMW i8 Roadster’s broad roof retracts fully into the rear end, lending greater emphasis still to the car’s low-slung silhouette. The CFRP passenger cell’s robust structure means the soft-top could be designed with generous width and so create an amply sized window to the sky. The rear window extends into a comfort position as the roof folds away and can serve as a draught stop in any setting.

The B-pillars of the first-ever BMW i8 Roadster are emblazoned with beautifully made model-specific badges bearing the inscription “Roadster”. A similar logo can be found on the tail of the sporty two-seater.

New exterior paint finishes, exclusive light-alloy wheels.
The design cues common to both the new BMW i8 Coupe and first-ever BMW i8 Roadster include the gullwing doors that open forwards and upwards as well as optimized aerodynamics. The low hood, BMW kidney grille, air flap control system, Air Curtains in the front apron, flat underbody, contoured side skirts, “stream flow” lines of the car’s flanks, and air ducts between the rear lights and roof frame allow the air to be guided effectively. The flow of cooling air at the front of each model has now been re-routed. Instead of rushing out through the outlet in the hood, the air escapes at the sides of the car near the wheel arches and into the underbody. This ensures a pleasant cabin temperature is maintained at all times, especially when travelling in the first-ever BMW i8 Roadster with the roof down.

E-Copper metallic and Donington Grey metallic have been added to the choice of exterior paint finishes available for the new BMW i8 Coupe and first-ever BMW i8 Roadster. Both are combined with accents in Frozen Grey metallic.

The first-ever BMW i8 Roadster is equipped as standard with exclusive 20-inch BMW i light-alloy wheels in Radial-spoke style bicolor design with mixed-size tires (Jet Black design optional). Intelligent lightweight design also make an impact here, with each wheel weighing around 2.2 pounds less than the lightest wheels previously available for the BMW i8. In addition to the standard 20-inch light-alloy wheels, customers can choose from another four light-alloy wheel variants with the same dimensions.

The BMW i8 Coupe also includes a model-specific design feature indicating its identity: “Coupe” badging on its B-pillars.

Innovative interior design in a range of new looks.
The progressive style of the BMW i8 Coupe and first-ever BMW i8 Roadster also shines through clearly in their interior design. Standard specification for both models includes a sports steering wheel and multifunctional instrument display, plus Giga interior trim comprising full-leather upholstery in Ivory White for the Coupe and Ivory White/Black for the Roadster. Giga interior trim can alternatively be specified in dark Amido for both models and there is also the option of Halo interior trim featuring cloth/leather upholstery in a Carum/Dalbergia color scheme.

New to the portfolio for the first-ever BMW i8 Roadster and new BMW i8 Coupe is Tera World Copper interior trim, a high-end option featuring cloth/leather upholstery in an Amido/E-Copper color scheme.

Powertrain, chassis and body.
With its intoxicating blend of advanced BMW eDrive technology, BMW TwinPower Turbo technology internal combustion engine, sophisticated chassis technology, hybrid-specific all-wheel drive and rigorously applied lightweight design measures, the BMW i8 has come to epitomize the future of the Ultimate Driving Machine. Since its market debut in 2014, it has established itself as the world’s highest-selling plug?in hybrid sports car. It succeeds in melding sports car performance qualities with the sort of fuel economy and emissions usually associated with compact models. The LifeDrive architecture, meanwhile, ensures a perfect distribution of weight.

The new BMW i8 Coupe and first-ever BMW i8 Roadster are powered by a drive duo in the form of a hybrid synchronous electric motor and BMW TwinPower Turbo technology 1,499 cc 3-cylinder gasoline engine (228 hp and 236 lb-ft). The engine’s power is channeled to the rear wheels through a 6-speed Steptronic automatic transmission, while the electric motor propels the front wheels via a two-speed automatic gearbox. The end result is a hybrid-specific all-wheel-drive system that glues the car to the road.

A refined high-voltage battery and an electric motor with more power.
The constant process of development has enhanced the performance capabilities offered by BMW’s eDrive technology. The energy capacity of the latest version of the model-specific lithium-ion battery is far greater, battery cell capacity having increased from 20 to 34 ampere hours (Ah) and gross energy capacity from 7.1 to 11.6 kilowatt hours (kWh, net energy capacity: 9.4 kWh). This advance is rooted primarily in advances made to the battery cell technology, which in turn stem from the BMW Group’s ever-increasing expertise in the field of electrical energy storage.

These extra energy reserves have made it possible to raise the electric motor’s peak output by 12 hp to 141 hp. In typical electric motor fashion, it generates its maximum torque of 184 lb-ft from standstill, which means it is ideally equipped to deliver razor-sharp responses to the slightest movement of the accelerator. The electric motor developed by the BMW Group also stands out with its consistent power delivery up to very high revs.

The battery cells’ higher capacity means that the proportion of all-electric driving can be increased substantially, even in hybrid mode. With the default driving mode engaged, both the new BMW i8 Coupe and first-ever BMW i8 Roadster are capable of pulling away and reaching speeds of up to 65 mph purely on the electric motor’s power, making it possible to drive with zero local emissions. And if the eDrive button is pressed, the all-electric threshold of both models is increased to 75 mph.

The new high-voltage battery benefits the electric range of the two plug-in hybrid sports cars too. The first-ever BMW i8 Roadster and BMW i8 Coupe can cover up to 18 miles in purely electric driving, almost 30 percent more than before (preliminary figures).

Three-cylinder gasoline engine with improved sound and lower emissions.
The i8’s combustion engine has also undergone further optimization to ready it for the new Coupe and Roadster. The turbocharged three-cylinder unit featuring direct injection and VALVETRONIC variable valve timing extracts a maximum output of 228 hp from its displacement of just 1.5 liters, plus peak torque of 236 lb-ft. It is pleasantly refined and generates a distinctive soundtrack that now has an even sportier note when its power reserves are called upon.

The system output produced by the electric motor and gasoline engine acting in unison has increased to 369 hp in the new BMW i8 Coupe and first-ever BMW i8 Roadster. The new BMW i8 Coupe accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds (preliminary), while the first ever BMW i8 Roadster accelerates in 4.4 seconds (preliminary). Both models have an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.

Combined fuel economy in everyday driving, both models return fuel economy and emissions figures that undercut those for conventionally powered sports cars with similar outputs by around 50 per cent, yielding approximately 70 MPGe (preliminary figures).

Maximized driving pleasure with intelligent energy management and hybrid-specific all-wheel drive.
In hybrid mode, the electric motor provides a power boost to assist the engine when vigorous acceleration is required. The electric motor is also able to recuperate energy and feed it to the high-voltage battery on the overrun and under braking. The gasoline engine’s high-voltage starter-generator can similarly generate additional reserves of electricity, thereby ensuring that sufficient energy is on tap at all times for the electric drive system in the new BMW i8 Coupe and first-ever BMW i8 Roadster.

This blend of dynamism and efficiency is further honed by the intelligent energy management’s proactive function. When the navigation system’s route guidance function is activated, the energy management ensures the electric motor is employed as extensively and as wisely as possible from an efficiency point of view. The system analyses the route in full and prompts the powertrain management to run on purely electric power, particularly over low-speed sections of the journey.

BMW i8 Roadster with model-specific chassis and body features.
The high-end chassis technology in the new BMW i8 Coupe and first-ever BMW i8 Roadster is based on a double-wishbone front axle and a five-link rear axle, whose aluminum components have been engineered for optimum weight and rigidity using specific design techniques and production processes. Also standard on both models is Dynamic Damper Control. The bespoke tuning of the suspension and damping systems, the specially configured steering characteristics, a firmer roll stabilization set-up and precise tweaks of the DSC parameters together ensure the first-ever BMW i8 Roadster boasts all of the plug-in hybrid sports car’s hallmark handling and performance qualities.

The approach of making systematic use of lightweight design measures has been meticulously adapted to the specific requirements of the Roadster model. The open-top two-seater comes with newly designed frameless gullwing doors made from CFRP with an aluminum outer shell, while the windscreen frame is made entirely from CFRP. This ultra-strong high-tech material is ideally equipped to provide exceptional rigidity, maximizing the car’s occupant protection in case of a roll-over situation. CFRP is also used to manufacture the side skirts with their extra-large cross-section. The skirts are a contributory factor in the body’s stiffness, as are the additional panels in the rear suspension and the specially designed struts for the front and rear axle. Thanks to the high-strength CFRP body, the chassis and body elements specific to the BMW i8 Roadster result in an extremely small weight gain when compared to other open-top models. The unladen weight of the new BMW i8 Roadster stands at 3,513 pounds, just 132 pounds more in approximate terms than that of the new BMW i8 Coupe (preliminary figures).

Controls, equipment, BMW Connected, ConnectedDrive and 360° ELECTRIC.
Both the display and control concept and the equipment of the new BMW i8 Coupe and first-ever BMW i8 Roadster serve to enhance their exhilarating sports car feel and the intense hybrid driving experience. As well as its multifunction buttons, the leather sports steering wheel also comes with shift paddles for changing gear manually, while the standard heated seats for the driver and front passenger are electrically adjustable.

Driving Dynamics Control switch and eDrive button provide five driving modes.
Drivers will find an eDrive button in the center console alongside the Driving Experience Control switch to allow them to adapt not just the vehicle’s set-up but also the drive system’s operating strategy. This provides a total of five driving modes to choose from: hybrid drive with COMFORT, SPORT or ECO PRO settings and all-electric driving in COMFORT or ECO PRO mode. If the eDrive button is pressed in either COMFORT mode – which strikes an even balance between sporty and efficient characteristics – or ECO PRO mode (designed for particularly fuel-efficient driving), power is provided by the electric motor alone up to a speed of 75 mph. The combustion engine will only cut in automatically if the battery’s energy reserves are nearly fully depleted or the driver summons full power via kickdown.

It is in SPORT mode that the intelligently controlled interaction between electric motor and combustion engine can be experienced at its most intense. Both power units deliver extra-sharp performance, accelerator response is faster and the power boost from the electric motor is maximized. And to keep the battery topped up, SPORT mode also activates maximum energy recuperation on the overrun and under braking. The intelligent energy management’s mode of operation can be visualized by calling up the energy flow graphic in the Control Display via the iDrive menu.

The instrument cluster takes the form of a fully digital multifunctional instrument display, which shows the car’s speed and driving status information in a format and color scheme selected to suit the driving mode engaged. Traditional, orange-colored circular dials appear in SPORT mode, in COMFORT mode, a blue “power meter” display keeps the driver up to speed on what the electric motor is up to, and ECO PRO mode supplements this with an efficiency gauge.

Navigation system Professional and Driving Assistant as standard.
The Navigation system Professional, also included as standard, is controlled using the latest iDrive 6.0 operating system, comprising both a Touch Controller on the center console and an 8.8-inch freestanding touch screen Control Display. The main menu is now presented on the screen in the form of horizontally arranged tiles with a live mode. The standard audio system features a 12 speaker 360 W Harman Kardon HiFi system with HD tuner for digital radio reception.

When it comes to driver assistance systems, the BMW i8 Coupe and BMW i8 Roadster are both equipped as standard with a model-specific BMW Head-Up Display. When the driver is shifting gears manually in SPORT mode, this switches to a sport display that adds an rpm readout, gear indicator and Optimum Shift Indicator. Also included as standard are a cruise control system with braking function as well as the Driving Assistant Package including Surround View. This system comprises Frontal Collision warning with City Collision Mitigation Daytime Pedestrian Protection Park Distance Control with sensors at the front and rear, Automatic Highbeams, Speed Limit Info and Cross Traffic Alert and Side and Top View Cameras.

BMW Connected and ConnectedDrive: sustainable mobility as an integral part of digital lifestyles.
The enthralling driving experience offered by a plug-in hybrid sports car is enriched by the digital services offered by BMW Connected and ConnectedDrive. Intelligent connectivity between vehicle, driver and the outside world paves the way for remarkably efficient mobility, increases comfort, expands the infotainment offering and helps with individual mobility planning.

BMW Connected is a personal mobility assistant that interfaces the vehicle with the customer’s selected touchpoints, such as a smartphone or smartwatch, via the flexible Open Mobility Cloud platform. This turns the personal mobility assistant into a seamlessly integrated component of the driver’s digital life, available anytime and anywhere. The new BMW i8 Coupe and first ever BMW i8 Roadster also benefit from the latest BMW Connected and BMW Connected+ digital services. These include intelligent route planning, complete with refueling stops at a charging station or filling station (Send my Routes to Car), sharing of the current trip status by text message and live link (Share Live Trip Status), personalized display of the relevant in-vehicle information (BMW Onboard), seamless transfer of route guidance to a smartphone or smartwatch once the car has been parked (Navigate Door-to-Door) and linking of contact details and addresses so they can be imported directly into the navigation system (My Destinations).

ConnectedDrive Services are also included as standard, providing access to functions such as Real Time Traffic Information and On-Street Parking Information, as well as the Concierge Services. The standard built-in SIM card also allows drivers of the first-ever BMW i8 Roadster to use Intelligent Emergency Call with automatic locating and accident severity detection. With the new BMW Teleservice Accident Assistance, the vehicle now also detects low-speed collisions below the threshold for airbag deployment. The driver receives a message in the iDrive display offering to contact the BMW Accident Assistance service directly. A push of a button is all it takes to obtain professional support from the BMW Accident Assistance team, who can also put the customer in touch with a BMW Service Partner if necessary. ConnectedDrive Services are also required to access additional services such as Online Entertainment and unlimited internet access, as well as to integrate various apps.

360° ELECTRIC: new charging cable, BMW i Charging Station.
360° ELECTRIC is a range of products and services that help make electric mobility a convenient, everyday experience. The functionality of the standard charging cable supplied with the first ever BMW i8 Coupe and first-ever BMW i8 Roadster has been optimized and includes a temperature sensor. Charging at home is extremely user-friendly thanks to the BMW i Charging Station which can supply 7.2 kW of power to charge the high-voltage battery and can fully charge it in under 3 hours. Drivers with a registered ChargeNow card have unrestricted access to the world’s largest network of public charging station

BMW Original Accessory: BMW TurboCord™ EV Charger.
Now available as a BMW Original Accessory the BMW TurboCord™ Electric Vehicle Charger can be purchased at certified BMW Centers for $499 MSRP. This premium charging solution provides BMW i and BMW iPerformance drivers with the ultimate charging experience – flexible dual-voltage (120 V / 240 V) capability and nearly three-times faster charging – all in the smallest, lightest UL-listed portable charger available. The BMW TurboCord™ EV Charger components have been specifically engineered by BMW to meet BMW Group standards and requirements, featuring a convenient 20 ft charging cord, and provides two chargers in one. Level 1 charging is readily available when plugged into any 120 V outlet and it also allows customers to charge up-to at 3.6 kW, nearly three-times faster than the standard occasional use cable (OUC) when used with a 240 V outlet (NEMA 6-20). Also integrated are such state-of-the-art safety features as unit and plug temperature monitoring, automatic shut-off and a rugged, waterproof, submersible enclosure (NEMA 6P) that enables users to safely and reliably charge indoor and outdoor.

BMW Group In America
BMW of North America, LLC has been present in the United States since 1975. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars NA, LLC began distributing vehicles in 2003. The BMW Group in the United States has grown to include marketing, sales, and financial service organizations for the BMW brand of motor vehicles, including motorcycles, the MINI brand, and the Rolls-Royce brand of Motor Cars; Design works, a strategic design consultancy based in California; technology offices in Silicon Valley and Chicago, and various other operations throughout the country. BMW Manufacturing Co., LLC in South Carolina is part of BMW Group’s global manufacturing network and is the manufacturing plant for all X5 and X3 Sports Activity Vehicles and X6 and X4 Sports Activity Coupes. The BMW Group sales organization is represented in the U.S. through networks of 344 BMW passenger car and BMW Sports Activity Vehicle centers, 153 BMW motorcycle retailers, 127 MINI passenger car dealers, and 36 Rolls-Royce Motor Car dealers. BMW (US) Holding Corp., the BMW Group’s sales headquarters for North America, is located in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey.

Information about BMW products is available to consumers via the Internet at: www.bmwusa.com.

Journalist note: Information about BMW and its products in the USA is available to journalists on-line at www.bmwusanews.com

2017 BMW i8 review

By: Emme Hall - CNET

THE GOOD Incredible design both inside and out and a top-notch navigation system. The electric motors make all the mid-range torque you could possibly want.

THE BAD It's relatively slow off the line and there aren't many driver's aids to speak of. Oh, and it's pretty spendy, too.

THE BOTTOM LINE The BMW i8 is a mostly engaging ride from a unique hybrid powertrain, but those looking for flat-out speed should stick to old-fashioned petrol.

BMW to bring Alexa to its cars starting in 2018

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Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant will be your cockpit companion in future BMWs: The automaker will offer Alexa in select cars starting in 2018, Amazon announced today at a special event revealing a host of product news at its Seattle HQ.

The vehicle integration will begin in the middle of next year, the companies revealed, and will provide access to Alexa skills and voice-based capabilities right from the infotainment system. This isn’t the first time Alexa has shown up in vehicles, as Ford demonstrated a test version of its Sync platform with Alexa functionality baked in at CES last January.

BMW also previously teamed up with Amazon to release Alexa skills for the BMW Connected app, that let vehicle owners do things like check how much fuel there is in their cars from their Echo devices at home.

The new partnership with BMW means that its vehicles will also include far-field microphones throughout the vehicle, which will make voice interaction easy, and it’ll display visual output using the car’s in-vehicle display information and navigation display.

BMW considers ditching car keys

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Frankfurt motor show - BMW is reviewing the necessity of car keys, says Ian Robertson, the company’s board member responsible for sales.

The fact that customers now all carry a smartphone and the availability of a BMW App which allows customers to unlock their vehicle, has made old fashioned keys less relevant, he told Reuters at the Frankfurt motor show.

BMW's smartphone app allows drivers to control various functions of the car and the ability to use a phone as verification before starting the car could replace physical keys.

“Honestly, how many people really need it,” Robertson said in an interview, explaining that customers no longer had to put the key in the ignition to make the car start.

“They never take it out of their pocket, so why do I need to carry it around?,” Robertson said, adding that the company was looking at getting rid of keys altogether.

“We are looking at whether it is feasible, and whether we can do it. Whether we do it right now or at some point in the future, remains to be seen,” Robertson said.

Many modern cars have keyless operation and a start/stop button, but these are still accompanied by an electronic key fob which drivers carry in their pockets or handbags. Many of these still have physical keys as a backup in case the fob malfunctions.

Ditching a physical key altogether could mean one less thing to carry around, but it could also leave motorists stranded if their smartphone malfunctioned, was lost or stolen, or the battery died. 

- Motoring Staff

The new BMW M5 is the all-conquering beast we all hoped it would be

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By Benjamin Zhang - Business Insider

BMW recently unveiled the latest edition of its iconic M5 sports sedan. According to the guys from Munich, it's the quickest and most technologically advanced M5 to date.

That's saying quite a lot since the M5 has been, for the majority of its existence, the meanest and most formidable sports sedan in all the land.

The sixth generation M5 looks to continue that tradition.

Lurking under the hood will be a 4.4 liter, twin-scroll, twin-turbocharged V8 engine that produces a whopping 600 horsepower. It'll be mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and BMW's innovative new M xDrive all-wheel-drive system.

The M xDrive system sends most of the M5's power to the rear wheels and only sends power to the front when it detects a drop in traction. That's nothing special. What is special is a 2wd-mode that can shut off the all-wheel-drive system and send power only to the rear, allowing the driver some extra sideways fun.

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"Thanks to M xDrive, the all-new BMW M5 can be piloted with the familiar blend of sportiness and unerring accuracy both on the racetrack and out on the open road, while also delighting drivers with its significantly enhanced directional stability and controllability right up to the limits of performance when driving in adverse conditions such as on wet roads or snow." BMW M chairman Frank van Meel said in a statement when the car was unveiled on Monday. 

The confluence of all these go-fast goodies is a car capable of hitting 60 mph in just 3.2 seconds and 124 mph in just 11.1 seconds. The M5's top speed is artificially limited to 155 mph. However, an optional M Driver's Package will raise that figure to 189 mph.

Styling wise, the M5 takes the new 5-Series sedan's understated aesthetic and sprinkles on an extra layer of muscular aerodynamic enhancements to reflect the car's performance capabilities. These include a redesigned rear diffuser, spoiler, side skirts, and enlarged air intakes for improved cooling. The M5 also takes advantage of aluminum alloys and carbon-reinforced plastic to keep the 4,200-pound sedan's weight in check.

"The BMW M5 has always embodied the perfect blend of mature business sedan and high-performance components," BMW vice president of design, Domagoj Dukec, said in a statement. "So you can think of the BMW M5 as the world’s fastest-moving tailored suit."

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Inside, the driver is armed with a slew of tech features including an M-specific head-up display, multiple driving modes, and gesture control.

The 2018 BMW M5 is expected to reach showrooms in the spring of 2018. Official pricing will be announced at a later date.

2018 BMW X2 dons an artsy disguise before its unveiling

By Chris Paukert

Small crossovers are as popular among coveted young consumers as "Game of Thrones" is these days, so it's no surprise that BMW is set to expand its model range with the new X2 previewed here.

The new compact SUV is expected to be very similar in execution to BMW's current X1, albeit with more streamlined "Sports Activity Coupe" bodywork. That's typically Bavarian parlance for "raked rear window," a styling change that has proven effective -- and profitable -- in models like the X4 and X6. 

However, as these first photos suggests, the X2 looks like it has a more vertically oriented backlight than its siblings would lead you to believe -- probably because its small footprint wouldn't allow for steeply angled rear glass. Instead, the X2 looks to have a less tapered windowline that should help preserve second-row headroom and cargo space.

The new X2 is expected to ride atop the same UKL platform as the aforementioned X1, a modular architecture that also underpins Mini's current product range. That means it's fair to assume all-wheel drive will be on offer, along with a version of 2.0-liter BMW TwinPower Turbo four-cylinder engine. In X1 guise, the latter is good for 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, enabling an official 0-60 mph time of 6.3 seconds.

As with its X1 relative, don't expect much in the way of off-road ability -- the fact that the first images of this model were taken in a cityscape is no accident -- BMW is explicitly targeting young urban buyers.

BMW hasn't said when the new X2 will bow, but given the timing of these official camouflage teaser images, a debut at September's Frankfurt Motor Show seems likely. 

Also unconfirmed are plans for North American sales, but it would be a surprise if it's not offered in here, as it's expected to carry higher profit margins than the already-successful X1. If and when the X2 does hit our market, expect base X2 pricing be higher than the (nearly $37,000) X1. A base MSRP nudging against the $40,000 barrier, where it would slot just underneath BMW's larger X3 seems likely.

Oxford plant to produce electric Mini, while BMW will also make an X3 full EV

By Paul Horrell - TopGear

A fully-electric version of the three-door Mini will go into production in late 2019, at the Oxford plant, says BMW. This is the first confirmation it’s the three-door car. The news is part of announcement of a future in which every single model series the company builds – Mini, BMW and Rolls-Royce – will be capable of accepting a plug-in hybrid or full-electric powertrain.

Previously BMW had said only that there would be an electric version of one of the Mini models. Given the difficulty of fitting many kWh-worth of batteries into the mini-est Mini, many people had assumed it would be a Clubman or Countryman that got the EV treatment.

Mini isn’t saying where the batteries will go. But it’s reasonable to assume a front motor, and some batteries under the central tunnel, back seat and boot floor.

There will also be an all-electric version of the newly announced BMW X3 in 2020.

The Mini is first time the Group will have sold a full-EV version of any of its conventional platforms. (There were experimental fleets of electric Minis in 2009 - pictured above - but their back seat was replaced by a huge battery. Then in 2011 there was a batch of 1 Series Coupes that seated four and proved-out the i3’s battery, electronics and motor.)

BMW already makes two types of modular PHEV system.

One of those fits the longitudinal-engined cars, sandwiching an electric motor between the petrol engine and the auto transmission. It’s fitted to the 330e, 530e, 740e and X5e. So it’s clear the potential exists to fit that to future generations of 2 Series Coupe, 4 Series and 6 Series. as well as the upcoming Rolls-Royce platform for the new Phantom and Cullinan SUV.

The other PHEV system is the one where one axle is driven by combustion and the other by electric. That’s the i8, 225Xe ActiveTourer, the Chinese-market plug-in X1, and the Mini Countryman Plug-In Hybrid (that one was launched as the Countryman S E All4, but they seem to have realised the little E badge wasn’t enough to get it noticed).

Then there’s the ‘range extender’ optional on the i3, but that’s not really a PHEV.

By 2025, the Group expects electrified vehicles to account for between 15-25 percent of sales. But remember, ‘electrification’ includes plug-in hybrids as well as EV. Because BMW is building EV capability into its mainstream platforms, it can be flexible if that sales proportion is lower or higher than the estimate. It’s a very different approach from the VW Group, Jaguar-Land Rover and Mercedes, which are all developing unique EV platforms rather like Tesla’s.

But BMW’s announcement does leave one thing unsaid. The company will still make pure combustion cars. Just three weeks ago, Volvo announced that after 2019, all newly introduced Volvos – every model – would have an electrified powertrain.

The gotcha was that Volvo wasn’t just talking about PHEV or full-EV. It also included ‘mild’ hybrids, which use a small 48-volt motor to start and supplement the engine, and recapture energy on braking. Volvo says a mild-hybrid petrol engine will cost no more to make than a clean non-hybrid diesel, and emit far less soot and NOx and about the same CO2.

So Volvo added it would likely stop developing new diesels after that date. These two statements – ‘everything electrified’ and ‘no new diesels’ – captured the imagination of news outlets everywhere, and Volvo found itself on the front pages of the papers and at the top of the BBC news. Whether news writers had grasped the difference between ‘electrified’ and ‘electric’ isn’t clear, but if not it was to Volvo’s enormous PR advantage.

BMW’s announcement is significant but doesn’t carry such a universal headline (though ‘electric Mini’ is clickbait).

Both, though, show the way the world’s going.

Microsoft partners with BMW to put Skype in cars

By Tom Warren - The Verge

Microsoft is expanding its partnership with BMW to enable Skype for Business in cars that use BMW’s iDrive system. BMW was one of the first car makers to enable Office 365 services in its cars, and this latest feature will let owners take Skype meetings in their cars through the built-in entertainment system.

The system will work by triggering notifications for meetings, allowing drivers to dial-in without having to enter the conference number details manually. BMW will also enable tighter integration with calendars, contacts, and to-do lists all from Microsoft’s Exchange service. BMW is planning to enable the Skype for Business feature in France, Germany, and the UK initially before it expanding it to other countries.

BMW also revealed earlier this year that it plans to integrate Microsoft’s Cortana digital assistant into some cars as part of Microsoft’s Connected Vehicle vision. BMW is planning to let drivers access Cortana through a dashboard screen, with the ability to easily access to-do lists, reminders, news, events, and other Cortana features.

BMW’s i3 battery now being used for Torqeedo’s electric boat motors

By Darrell Etherington - TechCrunch

BMW’s i3 high-capacity batteries, which it uses in its i3 compact electric vehicle, has applications beyond BMW’s own – case in point, the car maker is now supplying German boat propulsion system company Torqeedo with i3 batteries for its Deep Blue aquatic electric drive systems.

The Torqeedo systems provide motorboats with hybrid and electric propulsion ranging from 1 to 160 HP in capacity, and BMW says the adoption of its tech by the company is a testament to its ability to produce high voltage batteries for a range of applications in transport efficiency. The current version of the i3 battery has 44kWh capacity, providing 50 more charge with the same size and weight of the previous generation.

BMW designed i3 batteries to have ‘plug-and-play’ functionality, with in-house connectors, cables, sensors and temperature control systems in addition to the 12 cells found in each of the battery’s eight modules. The automaker intended from the outset to make the batteries usable in a range of different applications, including, for example, as energy storage in commercial power generation, where they can be useful even after they’ve passed their usable life in terms of powering vehicles.

A recent study found that the electric boat market would be worth $20 billion by 2027, so this is a market with huge growth potential for BMW, and Torqeedo is a partner that can help adapt their tech to a wide range of nautical applications.

BMW utilizing INRIX real-time parking feature to help drivers find a spot for new 5 Series sedan

BY KURT SCHLOSSER 

When it comes to in-car connectivity and navigation features, getting from point A to point B is nice, but what drivers really want is the ability to know in real time whether there is a parking spot around the corner.

INRIX, the Kirkland, Wash.-based transportation analytics company, announced Thursday that its On-Street Parking service will be available in the new BMW 5 Series sedan. The BMW service is available in Seattle and eight other U.S. cities — Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C, as well as the German cities of Berlin, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich and Stuttgart. Additional cities will be added.

A recent INRIX Connected & Autonomous Vehicle Consumer Survey found that 72 percent of respondents said real-time parking availability is the navigation feature they desire the most in their cars.

“Real-time parking is the most sought-after navigation feature because it addresses a pain point that affects everyone,” Joe Berry, vice president and general manager of automotive at INRIX, said in a news release. “The first automotive deployment of INRIX On-Street Parking solidifies BMW’s position at the forefront of connected car technology with a focus on delivering the services drivers want the most.”

The feature works through INRIX’s collection of information from a variety of sources — historical and real-time data from meters, cars and sensors. The service knows, for example, how many vehicles drive or stop on a particular street and how many of them have plugged a meter for whatever length of time. All of this anonymous data is fed into an algorithm to come up with the probability of finding a spot on a particular street.

The BMW 5 Series also includes a real-time traffic service from INRIX which provides up-to-the-minute and predictive traffic flow information for routes, travel times, and alerts to accidents and incidents on over five million miles of roads, the release noted.

BMW X2 Patent Pictures Surface

By Chris Tsui - The Drive

A few days after maybe, probably outing the design of the next Aston Martin Vantage, the Japanese patent office is giving us glimpses into the automotive future yet again with a filing that appears to show the production-ready shape of the upcoming BMW X2. For those of you perplexed by the abundance of alphanumeric BMW nameplates wondering what the hell an X2 is gonna be, think of it as a slopier, sportier, less practical version of the X1. Sort of like what the X6 is to the X5—but way smaller. 

And that's pretty much exactly what we see in these patent pictures. Proportions borrowed from the X1 with a slightly more aggressive front fascia, a less generous greenhouse, and ... the rear end from a Hyundai? Seriously, tell me these aren't the same car. 

The BMW X2 is projected to be powered by similar forces found in the existing X1, meaning a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with twin scroll turbos good for around 228-horsepower. This is likely to come in your choice of front-wheel-drive (you read that right) or all-wheel-drive flavors. 

BMW's new mini-sport-crossover is expected to officially show its face sometime this year, with our money on the Frankfurt show in September, along with the Concept X7.

New BMW M4 GT4 Will Appear at Watkins Glen

When BMW unveiled the GTS version of its venerable M4 performance coupe, some people thought it was far too extreme. The GTS was the distinctly track-focused variant, sporting 500 horses, a spartan interior, and a hefty rear spoiler to show that it meant business. Unfortunately, the M4-on-steroids still caught a lot of flak from reviewers for being too uncomfortable for a car costing $133,000, despite the fact that it was very clearly meant for the track and not the road. BMW seemingly took this personally, eventually debuting the M4 GT4, which promised more comfort and better performance. Now, the GT4 is headed to Watkins Glen for its North American debut. 

BMW USA announced today that its all-new M4 GT4 will be at Watkins Glen this weekend for the 6 Hours of the Glen race. BMW says this car finishes off its lineup of race cars, situated as it is between the M235i Racing and M6 GT3. The M4 GT4 is basically a response to customers who were dissatisfied with the M4 GTS and wanted a genuine racecar available to the public. 

The M4 GT4 takes many of its performance parts from its M6 GT3 cousin and features a racing exhaust system, carbon fiber exterior accents, and racing-spec rear spoiler and front splitter. BMW promises more driver comfort, too, with a better suspension system and improved brakes over the GTS. The GT4 also features a state-of-the-art modular engine control unit, allowing racing teams to fine-tune engine power for different competitions. Customers can pick it up for an eye-watering $196,000—but this car seemingly has the technology and performance to justify that price.

This car hits Watkins Glen this weekend for some hardcore racing around the circuit, and BMW also plans to race it at 24 Hours of Dubai next year. 

The new BMW X3.

The BMW X3 was the car that launched the mid-size SAV (Sports Activity Vehicle) segment in 2003. Since then, BMW has recorded more than 1.5 million new registrations of the X3 across the two model generations so far. And now the new BMW X3 is set to write the next chapter in this success story with an even more striking, dynamic design language, powerful yet also efficient drive systems and luxurious appointments.

  • The BMW X3 launched the mid-size Sports Activity Vehicle segment when it arrived on the scene in 2003. More than 1.5 million units of the X3 have since rolled off the assembly line and now the third-generation model is ready to take over the baton.
  • Eye-catching design ensures distinctive looks and highlights the car’s dynamic mission statement and familiar X character.
  • Customers can choose from three model lines – xLine, Luxury Line and M Sport – and the BMW Individual range of products to align the inside and outside of the new BMW X3 even more precisely with their personal tastes.
  • The range-topping BMW X3 M40i will be the first M Performance Automobile in this model series.
  • Carefully honed chassis, including reduced unsprung mass and sophisticated axle kinematics, elevates sporty handling to another new level.
  • From the launch of the new model (or shortly afterwards), the engine line-up will feature three petrol and two diesel engine variants with outputs from 135 kW/184 hp to 265 kW/360 hp (fuel consumption combined: 8.4 – 5.0 l/100 km [33.6 – 56.5 mpg imp]; CO2 emissions combined: 193 – 132 g/km)*. All models come with the eight-speed Steptronic transmission as standard.
  • Weight reduced by up to 55 kilograms from the predecessor model thanks to intelligent lightweight construction; class-leading aerodynamics (Cd = 0.29).
  • State-of-the-art operating system, with optional gesture control and Intelligent Voice Assistant.
  • Owners can operate functions including the optional auxiliary heating using the optional BMW Display Key.
  • BMW CoPilot: Options such as the latest generation of Active Cruise Control and the Driving Assistant Plus safety package including Steering and lane control assistant, Lane Change Assistant (est. from December 2017) and Lane keeping assistant with side collision protection provide extensive scope for (semi-)automated driving.
  • The full range of latest-generation BMW Connected functions are available, providing seamless connectivity between owners, their cars and the outside world.

Upcoming 2018 BMW X7 Spied Testing on Nurburgring

By Kyle Chemomcha - TheDrive

e'll have to wait until September's Frankfurt Auto Show to get our first look at an undisguised new 2018 BMW X7, but the company's engineers are already busy putting it through its paces. A prototype was previously caught on video doing some cold weather testing back in January; now a new clip from autoevolution shows a BMW test pilot chucking the husky seven-seat crossover around the Nurburgring.

Riding on the same platform as its 7 Series sedan counterpart, the BMW X7 promises to be a bit more than just a stretched X5. It will reportedly come in two separate versions: the mass-market seven-seater priced to compete with top-flight people movers like the Audi Q7 and the Mercedes-Benz GLS, and an exclusive four-seat model aimed squarely at ultra-lux SUVs like the Land Rover Range Rover Autobiography and the Volvo XC90 Excellence.

BMW head of sales and marketing Ian Robertson told Autocar earlier this month that both would feature "all the technology and luxury of the 7 Series [sedan]" and a price point to match. Engine options have yet to be confirmed, but it's safe to say they'll also mirror those found in the sedan—a range of six and eight cylinder powerplants, along with a plug-in hybrid model in keeping with BMW's electrification push.

With more tire noise than anything else in the video below (starting around 1:30), it's hard to tell which engine setup is powering the prototype as the big old Beemer does its best impression of an Ultimate Driving Machine on the Nurburgring. But the X7 does seem to acquit itself fairly well in the corners, no doubt thanks in part to its RWD-based architecture. Look for more details about features, pricing, and engine specs to emerge ahead of the official unveiling in September.

The Race To Monetize Vehicle Data Gets More Crowded as BMW Hooks Up With IBM

By Sam Abuelsmid - Forbes

As cars and trucks get ever more packed with sensors and connectivity, they are already generating tens of gigabytes of data per hour and will soon be producing terabytes per hour.  In this modern world, data is often deemed as good as gold, just ask Google and Facebook. That’s why everyone connected to the auto industry is scrambling to figure out ways to make a business out of data with the latest being BMW and IBM. The two are partnering up on the automakers CarData platform.

Over the past year we’ve seen a bunch of announcements of automotive data ventures from Ford’s acquisition of Silicon Valley software company Pivotal to develop FordPass to Ericsson’s Connected Vehicle Marketplace to Delphi’s investment in Otonomo. Like each of these CarData is designed to be a platform that aggregates data from driver’s vehicles and makes it available to third-party service providers.

Over the next several years as telematics become increasingly ubiquitous, it’s likely that the companies in this space will experiment with a variety of models for making money from Data. As the company that has been doing telematics longer than anyone, OnStar will likely keep everything in-house, just as relative newcomer Ford seems to be doing with FordPass, building  platforms and interfaces that service providers can plug into. Ericsson and Delphi/Otonomo are providing white-label services that OEMs that can utilize if they don’t want build and manage their own.

Using a third-party platform like IBM, Ericsson or Delphi/Otonomo certainly makes it easier for an automaker to implement. It also allows data from multiple automakers to be aggregated to provide a better pool of data for insights. For car owners that have vehicles from more than one brand, as long as they are on the same platform, their data could also be aggregated. On the other hand, adding an intermediary means another participant in the transaction that will want a slice of the revenue.

Which approach will ultimately prove more lucrative to automakers remains to be seen, but there is also another problem for the service providers. If there is no standard for the interfaces, it complicates life for the app developers with having to support multiple services. In the mobile device space this has proved to be a killer for anyone that wasn’t there first such as Microsoft or Blackberry. Once Apple and Google gobbled up the mobile device platform pie, no one else wanted to support new entries. Between automakers and independent data platform brokers, lack of standards could end up killing the golden goose of data services.

The author is a senior analyst on the Transportation Efficiencies team at Navigant Research and co-host of the Wheel Bearings podcast

2018 BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo Preview

BY CHRISTIAN WARDLAW - JD Power

Fast Facts:

  • Replacement for 5 Series Gran Turismo
  • Offered as the 640i xDrive with a turbocharged 6-cylinder engine
  • 5-door hatchback and a roomy interior with seating for 5 and up to 65 cu. ft. of cargo space
  • Numerous luxury, performance, safety, and technology features
  • Pricing starts at just over $70,000

Introduction
With the existing 6 Series lineup winding down in advance of the introduction of the new 8 Series, BMW is replacing the 5 Series Gran Turismo with the new 2018 6 Series Gran Turismo. When it goes on sale, it will be offered as the 640i xDrive at a starting price of $70,695, including the destination charge.

Exterior Features
The 6 Series Gran Turismo sits up higher than the 5 Series on which it is based and uses what BMW characterizes as a “coupe-inspired” 5-door hatchback body style to provide extra passenger and cargo carrying capability.

Sport design trim is standard, along with adaptive LED headlights, active grille shutter system, and an active rear spoiler. Wheel designs range from 19 ins. to 21 ins. in diameter.

Interior Features
BMW says that the 6 Series Gran Turismo supplies roomy and comfortable seating for 5 adults.

Compared with a 5 Series sedan the seating positions are higher, improving entry and exit, aiding outward visibility, and cultivating what BMW calls an “imperious driving experience.” Compared with the old 5 Series Gran Turismo, the replacement model adds soundproofing measures to quiet the interior.

Standard equipment includes leather sport seats with adjustable side bolsters, automatic climate control, ambient lighting, panoramic sunroof, and a navigation system. A hands-free power tailgate is standard, too, and when the 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats are powered down the 6 Series Gran Turismo holds 65 cu. ft. of cargo.

Optional Features
BMW has detailed three main option packages including Luxury, M Sport, and Driving Assistant Plus. Details for the latter package are provided in the Safety section below.

The Luxury package adds extra chrome trim and power-reclining rear seats, among other improvements. The M Sport package installs a sportier look, and itself can be enhanced with a Dynamic Handling package. That upgrade installs a 4-corner air suspension, active steering including rear-wheel steering, active roll stabilization, Comfort + driving mode, and an intelligently networked adaptive driving mode.

In addition to these features, 6 Series Gran Turismo buyers can enhance the car with quilted Nappa leather, multi-contour front seats, active seat ventilation, front-seat massage function, and a Bowers & Wilkins surround-sound system with 1,400 watts of power and 16 speakers.

Under the Hood
The new 6 Series Gran Turismo is equipped with a turbocharged, 3.0-liter 6-cylinder engine, an 8-speed sport automatic transmission with paddle shifters, and BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system. The engine makes 335 horsepower and 332 lb.-ft. of torque, the latter available from 1,380 rpm to 5,200 rpm. The result is acceleration to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds, according to BMW.

Driving Dynamics Control is standard, equipping the car with Eco Pro, Comfort, and Sport driving modes. BMW has also intelligently networked the transmission and automatic engine start/stop systems to, under certain conditions, use navigation route data to anticipate operational requirements for maximum effectiveness and efficiency.

Safety
Every BMW 640i xDrive Gran Turismo is equipped with a reversing camera, park-assist sensors, and the company’s Active Driving Assistant technology. Active Driving Assistant includes forward-collision warning with daytime pedestrian detection and low-speed automatic emergency braking, active blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane-departure warning.

The Driving Assistant Plus package adds adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go capability and a traffic-jam assistant, active lane-keeping assist, side-collision avoidance, front cross-traffic alert, and Evasion Aid corrective steering. Notably, the traffic-jam assistant and active lane-keeping assist allow for hands-free driving for as long as 50 seconds, BMW says.

Technology
Equipped with BMW’s next-generation iDrive 6.0 infotainment system, the new 6 Series Gran Turismo features a freestanding, 10.25-in. touch-screen display with a tile menu layout, natural-voice recognition, gesture control, and Apple CarPlay smartphone-projection technology.

A navigation system is also standard in the new Gran Turismo 6 Series and includes car-to-car communication capabilities to convey specific road conditions to nearby BMWs that may encounter them. On-street parking information and advanced real-time traffic are also included.

BMW Connected personal mobility assistant and ConnectedDrive services are also standard for the 6 Series Gran Turismo. Highlights include BMW Accident Assistance with Intelligent Emergency Call enhanced by vehicle location and accident severity reporting. With the car’s available Display Key upgrade, an owner can see their vehicle and its surroundings from their smartphone using a BMW Connected App.

Optional technology features include a new head-up display with a 75% larger projection area, surround-view camera system with 3-D view, and BMW Night Vision. Parking Assistant technology works for parallel, perpendicular, and angled parking spaces, and with the Display Key option BMW’s Remote Control Parking system allows the driver to put the car into a tight space while standing outside of the vehicle.

Watch The Historical BMW Art Car Series Enter The Virtual World

By Nargess Banks - Forbes

A BMW M6 GT3 racecar appears on stage, cloaked in matt carbon black. The audience aim their smartphones at the number 18 on the car and through an app project colorful light swishes onto its surface. The augmented reality technology transforms the M6 into other-worldly shapes for a moving, dancing sculpture in virtuality. Meet the latest BMW Art Car #18. If this sounds like the most surreal Art Car to date, then that’s because it is.

The multimedia artist behind this latest project is one of China’s rising stars, Cao Fei. Following the contributions by art world royalties Jeff Koons and John Baldessari, at 39 Fei is also the youngest and the first Chinese artist to be involved in the series. The unique BMW Art Car project started life in 1975 when racing driver Hervé Poulain casually asked his artist friend Alexander Calder to paint a 3.0 CSL which he subsequently raced at Le Mans. Since, the paintbrush of some of the most notable names in art history have stroked BMW racecars, with all but one competing on the international racing scene. Watching a work of art race towards the finish line can be sensational.

There have been some incredible contributions – who can forget the Koons M3 GT2 in its riot of colors racing at the Le Mans in 2010. Yet until now none have attempted to take the car into virtual space. A decade ago, artist Olafur Eliasson made an ecological statement by removing the wheels from his Art Car, but Cao has taken a greater leap by using the occasion to make a statement on the second life of the automobile – the clean, multi-functioning, digitalized, autonomous vehicle. Simultaneously, she is narrating the dazzling speed of China’s evolution.

Cao’s work is presented in three layers - a short film titled ‘Unmanned’, the carbon black racecar and a free app that employs both virtual and augmented reality - all to be seen simultaneously for a theatrical and interactive experience. Unmanned (well worth seeing for its cinematic brilliance and soundtrack Gosh by Jamie xx) sees a time-travelling monk leave a tranquil hilltop, setting off by foot toward a nameless megacity passing fragments of modern China - mass construction of soulless high rises, super highways with their endless traffic, giant advertising billboards, a factory car park with row upon row of identical cars.

He approaches the black M6 GT3, puts on a VR headset and executes spiritual movements, which echo in colorful streams of light. The monk’s dance is paying tribute to the traditional Asian spiritual ceremony of blessing a new object, here the racecar and driver. The light elements mirror what the eyes cannot see and the mind may not picture. In the real world, when the app is used within the premises of the car, these light swishes become an AR installation floating above and around the car. We, the spectator, therefore become an interactive participant. This is art as experience.

Cao was chosen by an independent jury that includes some of the world’s most notable gallery directors, but it took some convincing the BMW board members in Munich. “It wasn’t easy for the company to go ahead with this car,” admits Thomas Girst, head of BMW Group cultural engagement. “The Art Car project was always about celebrating the artwork and racing – it wasn’t about autonomous flying cars! But it felt like a natural development of the series.” The jury too were unanimously in favor of Cao. Richard Armstrong, director Guggenheim Museum New York, says: “She is a very courageous choice because of her capacity to make parallel universes.”

One of the premises behind the Art Car project is to allow the artists complete creative freedom, that is as long as they don’t mess with the body weight or aerodynamics of the racecar, says Girst. In Cao’s case the challenge was to find a surface that would work with augmented reality technology. The only way this could function effectively is on a non-reflective matt color - reflective surfaces simply cannot be picked up by the algorithm. Cao says: “I needed the darkest of shades so when the color appears with the AR you only see the shadow of the car.”

The artist is very much from the digital age. She has a prominent presence in Second Life and says she views the machine as human. You can sense her comfort within the virtual world. “When looking at the boundaries between the virtual and real world my answer is light, something visible and something invisible. To me, light represents thoughts. As the speed of thoughts cannot be measured, the Art Car questions the existence of the boundaries of the human mind.”

She offers: “We are entering a new age, where the mind directly controls objects and where thoughts can be transferred, such as unmanned operations and artificial intelligence. Which attitudes and temperaments hold the key to opening the gateway to the new age?”

The artist is also from a generation born into a modern China. Her father was a prominent socialist realist sculptor who created busts of heroes and political figures. In contrast, the young Cao was raised in Guangzhou, a city close to Hong Kong and one of the first to experience Westernization in the 1980s. She admits her work takes a great deal from witnessing China’s rapid development. This, alongside a childhood observing her father’s more traditional work, has helped inform her art work.

“Being from the new generation, I could see this new China and you can see these contradictions in the development of my work.” She admits there are constraints working as an artist in China but that “swimming along is a Chinese skill,” she smiles. “My father was expressing the idea of restrictions within restrictions. For me virtuality is a means to express myself, to understand reality which is what I’m interested in. We are living in an age of rapid technology and in this context, we need to know that virtuality has changed the way reality works. And to do this we need to be part of it,” she says. “Here I want to convey a message to the younger generation by using an app. This kind of interaction is crucial for me.”

The romance of the motor car, that historical and emotional connection, has little value in China. Cars for mass consumption is a relatively new concept here and I cannot help wonder if, in much the same way Cao is so comfortable in the digital world, the second life of cars which we conceptually perhaps struggle with in Europe, feels like a natural evolution to her. China’s dazzling development, whereby city maps have to be reconfigured every six months, leaves little time for the romance of contemplation.

As BMW continues to reposition itself as a tech firm, exploring cars that are advanced mobile tech gadgets, I ask the artist if she is aware that her car is expressing this vision. “Today, it isn’t enough to use a brush to paint but we need to go beyond aesthetic values,” she offers. “The monk in the film is travelling from past to the future through different spaces. It is about past, present and future, but also reality and virtuality. Image can give energy to cars because this kind of energy cannot be expressed in language. These images can showcase our vision for the future automobile.”

The eighteenth BMW Art Car has taken three years from initial concept during which time Cao, who doesn’t hold a driving license, had a racing experience in Switzerland that greatly informed her work, as well as spent time at the BMW headquarters working closely with the engineers and digital specialists.

A virtual experience of the #18 Art Car will be on display during Art Basel later this month. Most importantly, BMW racing driver Augusto Farfus will take the M6 GT3 on the track at FIA FT World Cup in Macau in November. The team admit that they are working on how to project the AR on a car moving at such speed. Jens Marquardt, BMW Motorsport director, says the project perfectly suits this era. “The augmented reality experience makes this unique, making the tradition of BMW Art Cars livelier than ever.”

The BMW M2 at Lime Rock: Still the Coupe du Jour

By Lawrence Ulrich - The Drive

I want a BMW M2 Coupe. So does everyone else, apparently.

After falling for this tough little bugger at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca last year, I had another go-round with the brilliant, 365-horsepower M2 at Lime Rock Park this spring. After trading hot laps with deputy editor Josh Condon on a picture-perfect afternoon in woodsy northern Connecticut, I drove the M2 home to Brooklyn where our day had started. Having had my fill of speed at the historic circuit—including some enjoyably pointless drifting on a wet skidpad—I settled into a southbound convoy with Condon’s Lexus RC F. The M2 flowed from bend to bend on Route 7, in an apparent synchronized swim with the wide Housatonic River. Fast, slow, or in-between, the BMW never missed a beat.

It felt bad to bid this M2 goodbye, a sure sign of a car that's wormed its way into my brain and heart. I dropped the BMW at a Newark airport lot en route to another famous track: Imola, where I drove the Lamborghini Huracan Performante, not far from the company’s headquarters and factory in Sant'Agata Bolognese. (Check back for a full Performante review next week). Now, the M2 won’t wring out the Nürburgring like the record-setting Huracan. But it doesn’t cost $275,000, either. And like Lambo’s track-day special, you can drive this BMW from your own neighborhood to any road course and back home again, for a starting price of $52,695. 

In sharp contrast to most BMWs, there are only three factory options, two of them included on my test car: A seven-speed, dual-clutch DCT automatic transmission for $2,900, and a $1,250 Executive Package that adds heated seats, a rear-view camera, ultrasonic rear parking sensors and BMW’s Active Driving Assistant. (Metallic paint, in blue, gray or black, adds another $550.) Grand total for my tester: $56,845.

The ever-playful M2 awaits its turn on the Slip 'N Slide skidpad at Lime Rock

The ever-playful M2 awaits its turn on the Slip 'N Slide skidpad at Lime Rock

Between the relatively attainable price, compact footprint, and endorphin-boosting performance, the M2 has made folks nostalgic for the good old days of BMW. Adopting the ultra-wide front and rear axles of the M3 and M4, the BMW looks menacing without being overly macho and bulked up. Its dramatic, wing-shaped front air dam slips along the pavement like some graceful manta ray. This M2 is actually 8.2 inches shorter than the classic E46 M3 model, but 2.5 inches wider. 19-inch forged wheels are stuffed into those provocatively flared wheel arches, their black finish creating a stark, handsome contrast with my test car’s Alpine White paint.

The BMW is stiffly sprung, but not so stiff that I couldn’t drive it every damn day, even in the Boschian hellpits of New York. (You want to ooze down the road? Get a Lexus ES300.) The M2 is actually a perfect city car. It's small enough to park anywhere; stylish enough to turn heads and spark compliments from and conversations with Bimmer fans; and just practical enough for airport and grocery runs. When the front occupants kindly eased forward an inch or two, we even made room in back for six-foot-tall adults. Some drivers grouse about the upright driving position, but I love the BMW’s at-the-ready stance, which reminds me of a VW GTI.

If I had my druthers, I’d save $2,900 and Choose Life in the form of the optional six-speed, rev-matching manual transmission. But on Lime Rock’s short, flowing track, where preserving momentum is the difference between a fast lap and the back of the pack, the DCT automatic—including its tactile, perfectly-situated metal paddle shifters—made it easy to get shifting done before key corner entries, while keeping my concentration fully on steering and braking. I’d describe the rear limited-slip differential as a benign kick in the pants, though it’s more a boot to individual butt cheeks: The BMW’s slip-sensing computer sends the lion’s share of torque to a single inside rear wheel to help chew your way out of corners.

And how efficient is the M Division’s beefed-up 3.0-liter six, with its whirring twin-scroll turbocharger? Fire up the computerized launch control, which eschews the tail-happy, rubber-torching drama of the M3 and M4 launch programs, and the automatic M2 snarls from 0-60 mph in 4.1 seconds, 0.2 seconds quicker than the manual version. Both numbers are just 0.1 seconds behind a Corvette Stingray, which would seem to have the M2 whipped on paper. The Chevy boasts 95 additional horses, a bit less weight, and nearly double the displacement from its big pushrod V-8.

On Lime Rock’s 1.5 miles of roller-coaster plummets and curves, the BMW’s engine spins like Sean Spicer in the bushes. The inline six zings past 7,000 rpm and emits an expensive-sounding snarl through a quartet of exhaust outlets. The single turbocharger helps wind up 343 pound-feet of torque with virtually no trace of lag. Stand on the gas to access 369 pound-feet for short bursts through a turbo overboost function. As with any modern performer, the electrically assisted steering can’t quite match the pure fidelity of an old hydraulic unit. But it’s still damn good, with just enough road (or track) feedback trickling in through the chunky M steering wheel.

In the pit lane of Lime Rock, its 60th anniversary banners flashing from a pedestrian bridge, Condon and I switched back-and-forth into the driver’s seat. I peered into the BMW’s front wheels, where M Compound brakes are working overtime, to look for any traces of smoke. Not even close. Those all-day-strong brakes include blue-painted, four-piston front calipers, with aluminum hubs to trim unsprung weight. As a full-fledged M Car, the M2 also gets extra protection for its internal components. Sling the BMW into corners—or pitch it sideways on the skidpad like an especially spoiled teenager—its modified oil sump and suction system provides reliable lubrication in situations where g-forces might starve a lesser car. Ditto for the extra radiator, and a secondary transmission cooler for the DCT automatic version.

More than a year after my Monterey drive, M2 resale values are increcibly strong.

More than a year after my Monterey drive, M2 resale values are increcibly strong.

The only real bummer is a surprisingly hefty curb weight of 3,450 pounds, rising to 3,505 with the DCT gearbox. That’s just 80 fewer pounds than the larger M4 Coupe. Yet the M2 feels notably more sprightly and entertaining than its big brother. And for roughly $25,000 less than a well-equipped M4 , there’s no question which one I’d rather own.

The catch, of course, is getting your hands on an M2 for something near sticker price—a hard task, between dealer markups and the constrained production of the Leipzig, Germany factory whose output also includes the electrified i3 and i8 models.

As ever, Internet resellers tend to be optimistic, sometimes wildly so, about what their cars are actually worth. But it’s clear that there are no bargains to be had on an M2, new or used. TrueCar's data shows that owners are paying about $1,100 above sticker price, on average, for a 2017 M2, or about $3,500 above dealer invoice. Nearly 14 months after the 2016 M2 went on sale, specimens with roughly 5,000 to 12,000 miles are being listed online for roughly original sticker price, or even a few thousand dollars above. 

Owners and dealers of especially low-mileage 2016 versions are seeking about $60,000 to $64,000, for cars that maxed out at $57,000 on the sticker. And caretakers of 2017 models seem to believe their M2’s are appreciating Ferraris, seeking roughly $70,000 to $80,000 in online ads. (For that price, I’d just give up and buy a Porsche Cayman S.) Most grievously, some outfit called Century West BMW in Universal City, California is touting a 2017 M2 with 12 miles on the odometer for $105,435. That ad includes the helpful description of the BMW as “Unobtanium”! At that price, let’s hope it stays that way. Or that a Century West shopper, with a physique to match his sense of injustice, will punch the salesman responsible for setting that price in his opportunistic face—and call it the “visible hand” of the marketplace as he walks away.

Yet the remorseless state of supply-and-demand for the M2 does illustrate the market’s response to the car. The hype was justified, and BMW fans are bowing before this legitimate heir to the vintage BMW 2002ti. 

Bowing-and-scraping is another story, however. Those fans left without cars can only hope that BMW will see its way to building more M2s. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to Century West BMW to do some negotiating. I really think I can talk them down.

Lawrence Ulrich, The Drive’s chief auto critic, is an award-winning auto journalist and former chief auto critic for The New York Times and Detroit Free Press. The Detroit native and Brooklyn gentrifier owns a troubled ’93 Mazda RX-7 R1, but may want to give it a good home.

BMW's newly revealed concept 8 series is a modern-day coupe

Martin Hislop - Designboom

BMW is using this year’s concorso d’eleganza villa d’este—currently getting underway at lake como—to unveil the new ‘concept 8′ series. the design reveal serves as a preview of the forthcoming BMW 8 series coupe, scheduled for launch in 2018. the elegant concept car is instantly recognizable as a BMW in the way it simultaneously showcases new design ideas alongside form-building techniques.

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the interplay between the BMW concept ‘8’ series’ long bonnet and flowing roofline brings a sense of motion to the car’s flanks, while the upward sweep of the its trailing edge provides a sharp conclusion to the car’s rearward flow, while adding a sporting flourish. the silhouette of the concept vehicle spreads powerfully over the road. within the silhouette, a clean, dramatic arrangement of surfaces and forms creates a crisp, contemporary look.

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skilfully moulded line sources and flowing highlights accentuate the concept ‘8’ series’ athleticism. a greyish-blue exterior paint finish named ‘barcelona grey liquid’ shows off the surfacing to optimum effect. 21 inch light-alloy wheels feature a sporty and exclusive multi-spoke design and aero elements, create visual depth and completes the sense of motion from a standstill.

the concept car’s front end is sporty, low-slung and visually striking. the classic BMW template now has a fresh interpretation, taking the company’s design language in a different direction. a large kidney grille, slim twin headlights and large air intakes form a striking, sporty front-end graphic. drawing inspiration from the company’s coupes of years past, the kidneys are brought together by an unbroken frame to form a single, wide element, emphasizing the dynamic character. super-slim laser headlights, and a hexagonal take on the ‘twin circular’ theme,  brings a focused look to the front end.

the concept’s back features a low, sculptural tail with maximum width-enhancing effect. powerful wheel arches hint at the car’s power and celebrates its rear-wheel drive. the elongated, slim rear lights extend far into the sides and provide a connection between the rear and flanks. the lights take the form of L-shaped blades and project out from the rear, emphasizing the width of the car and its muscular stance on the road. the dark, stylized carbon-fibre diffuser in the lower section of the rear apron adds extra lightness and a sportier feel to the rear graphic. trapezoidal exhaust tailpipes frame the rear section and points to a powerful driving experience.

the interior explores the contrasts between emotion and engineering, dynamic flair and luxury; its form suggests sportiness, while high-quality materials exude exclusivity. the exclusive sports seats are slim in design, a carbon-fibre shell provides the basic structure, and the finest leather makes them the perfect place to sit. the steering wheel features hand-polished aluminum spokes arrowing forward, and red-anodized shift paddles bring the race track to mind. the contrast of aluminum and dark leather on the gripping surfaces emphasizes the sense of sporting-luxur in various details. merino leather in ‘dark’ brown and ‘fjord’ white lends the interior a high-quality ambience. surfaces are clad in carbon fibre and hand-polished aluminium, creating attractive contrasts, while radiating a sporty and technical feel. a faceted ground gearshift lever, plus an ‘iDrive’ controller made from swarovski glass with a smoky quartz look, give the interior some contemporary finishing touches.