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PressClub South Africa · Article.

BMW i celebrates two years in South Africa.

Two years after its market launch in South Africa BMW i has established itself as the most successful provider of Electric Vehicles (EV) and Plug-in-Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) in the country. Since market introduction in March 2015, a total of 419 BMW i models have been delivered to customers in South Africa.

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BMW i Automobiles
BMW iPerformance Automobiles

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BMW Group

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Midrand. Two years after its market launch in South Africa BMW i has established itself as the most successful provider of Electric Vehicles (EV) and Plug-in-Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV) in the country.


Since market introduction in March 2015, a total of 419 BMW i models have been delivered to customers in South Africa. The BMW i3 alone has sold 203 units, making it the most successful EV, while the BMW i8 ranks first among PHEVs with a total of 216 units delivered to customers.


“In a market where electric vehicles are still a fairly new concept, we are pleased with the strides we have made with the BMW i brand. However, sustainable mobility thrives wherever there is an effective combination of three factors: customer demand, legislation and innovative partnerships. While we have made inroads and formed alliances as well as partnerships that have helped propel BMW i and our 360° ELECTRIC mobility strategy forward, we need more commitment from government in order to increase consumer confidence in electric vehicles because this is the future of mobility,” says Tim Abbott, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of BMW Group South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.


In 2017, the BMW Group aims to sell 100,000 electrified vehicles worldwide (including BMW iPerformance / PHEVs). “In the first quarter, we already sold over 20,000 electrified vehicles worldwide. We estimate that by 2025, electrified drive trains are likely to account for 15 to 25 percent of our total global sales,” adds Abbott.


BMW i3: Providing emission-free mobility in urban areas.

Crowned the winner of the World Urban Car Award 2017, the BMW i3 is the BMW Group’s first volume-produced model driven purely by electric power. Conceived for urban dwellers looking for alternative mobility solutions, it is the world’s first premium car conceived from the outset to incorporate an all-electric drive system. A crucial element within the success story of the BMW i3 has been that it is the only EV worldwide with an optional Range Extender (REX), which features a 650cc two-cylinder petrol engine, which is used to charge the battery. The BMW i3 battery electric vehicle (BEV) with 60 ampere-hours (Ah) offers a range of up to 130 kilometers, while the BMW i3 REX offers a range of up to 300 kilometers.


In July 2016, BMW i expanded the model range of the BMW i3 and introduced the BMW i3 with 94 Ah, which features an increased range capacity of up to 50 percent and is not affected by bad weather conditions, air conditioning and the heater turned on. The driving performance figures of the 125 kW hybrid synchronous electric motor remain unchanged.


BMW i8 : The most progressive sports car.

The plug-in hybrid drive system powering the BMW i8 combines the performance of a sports car with the fuel economy of a far smaller model, making it the world’s most progressive sports car. The three-cylinder combustion engine in the BMW i8 develops 170 kW and drives the rear wheels, while the 96 kW electric motor draws its energy from a lithium-ion battery, which can be charged from a conventional domestic power socket and sends its power to the front axle. This bespoke plug-in hybrid system, developed and produced by the BMW Group, enables a range of up to 37 kilometers and a top speed of 120 km/h on electric power alone, coupled with a “glued-to-the-road” all-wheel driving experience headlined by powerful acceleration and a dynamically-biased distribution of power through keenly taken corners.


The higher-output of the two power sources drives the rear wheels and uses the electric boost from the hybrid system to offer ground breaking levels of efficiency. The sprint from 0 to 100 km/h takes just 4.4 seconds, yet combined fuel consumption – as calculated in the EU test cycle for plug-in hybrid vehicles – stands at 2.1 litres per 100 kilometers plus 11.9 kWh of electricity. This equates to CO2 emissions of 49 grams per kilometers.


To emphasise the exclusivity of the BMW i8, a new program of exterior paint finishes was introduced in 2016. The range from the BMW Individual collection gives customers the opportunity to choose from five exclusive paint finishes (new and aftermarket) to reflect their personal style. The colours include: Java Green, Speed Yellow, Solar Orange, Twilight Purple Pearl and Sakhir Orange.


In addition, three exclusive limited-edition BMW i8’s have also been added to the model portfolio. The models present customers with even more ways to own a very individual car. The first model introduced in 2016 was the BMW i8 Protonic Red Edition. This will be followed this year with BMW i8 Protonic Frozen Black Edition and BMW i8 Protonic Frozen Yellow Edition, which were both revealed at the 2017 Geneva Auto Show. Only 12 units of the BMW i8 Protonic Frozen Black edition and three units of the BMW i8 Protonic Frozen Yellow Edition will be available in South Africa. In 2018 the model range of the BMW i8 will expand with the introduction of the open-top BMW i8 Roadster.


BMW i technology transfer: BMW iPerformance and MINI PHEV.

By establishing the BMW i brand and opting to develop a separate vehicle architecture as well as BMW eDrive technology for electric power, the BMW Group was able to pioneer technology that is now building their EV and PHEV model range beyond BMW i. Through extensive transfer of technology to BMW Group brands, BMW i has become a significant influence in the company’s market success in the field of sustainable mobility. 


In 2015, the BMW X5 xDrive40e became the first series-production BMW with plug-in hybrid technology and launched as an iPerformance model. Currently, BMW Group South Africa offers three BMW iPerformance models; the BMW X5 xDrive40e, BMW 740e iPerformance and the BMW 330e iPerformance. The complete range in other key global markets includes the BMW 225xe iPerformance, BMW X1 xDrive 25Le iPerformance (available only in China), BMW 740Le iPerformance and BMW 530e iPerformance. In 2016, a total of 34,789 BMW iPerformance vehicles were delivered to customers worldwide.


The transfer of BMW i technology has also been extended to the MINI brand, with the introduction of the new MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4, which will be launched in South Africa in 2018.


With the continuing success of the BMW i3 model range, the BMW Group plans to extend its EV portfolio with the global market introduction of a purely electric MINI in 2019 and purely electric powered BMW X3 in 2020.


360° ELECTRIC: A holistic approach to electro-mobility.

The backbone of the strategy for BMW i’s market launch was the holistic approach to electro-mobility typified by the 360° ELECTRIC product and service packages. This includes; 

  • Home charging with the BMW i Wallbox,
  • Charging on the go at public charging stations with ChargeNow – a charging card used for access and payment (currently at no cost) at all BMW charging stations in South Africa, and
  • Assistance Services designed specifically for electro-mobility. For example, BMW i ConnectedDrive navigation services not only include the charging status of the high-voltage in route planning, but also recommend the most efficient route.


Charging solutions: Home and public charging.

Since local market launch home charging options have been made available to customers to purchase for comfortable and fast home garage charging. The initial BMW i Wallbox offered a single-phase operation and was updated to now also offer a charging capacity of up to 22 kW in three-phase operation.

In May 2016, BMW Group South Africa became the first market within the global BMW Group network to roll out a solar carport. Produced by SUNWORX – supplier of photovoltaic solar systems – the BMW solar carport is made of high end bamboo and stainless steel housing for the glass solar modules, the solar carport is in line with the BMW i design and production philosophy, which prioritises a zero carbon footprint.


The BMW i solar carport supplies an average of 3,6kW of solar power (at peak times on a clear sunny day) straight to the BMW i Wallbox, which is used to show a live readout of how much power is being generated by the sun and charge EV and PHEV BMW models. Customers and fleet companies are able to order the solar carport for home and office charging.


The BMW i solar carport concept was first shown at the BMW i8 international media launch in Los Angeles in April 2014 as well as the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in January 2015.


Plans are in place to include the BMW i solar carport as part of the BMW i public charging infrastructure currently available countrywide.


BMW Group South Africa currently offers 54 EV and PHEV public charging stations across the country. Two types of charging facilities are currently on offer: alternating current (AC) fast chargers, which offer Type 2 connections that can be used by other EV brands; and direct current (DC) fast chargers. BMW i customers can access these stations using their ChargeNow Card and by following the prompts on the chargers.


Across the network of 38 BMW i dealers, customers have free access to AC fast charging stations with their ChargeNow Card. AC fast chargers are also available to the public at BMW Group South Africa’s Head Office and BMW Financial Services Head Office, Midrand, Johannesburg, and at the BMW Group South Africa Vehicle Distribution Centre (VDC) in Rosslyn, Pretoria. All AC stations have an output of 22kW and charge a BMW i3 from 0 – 80 percent in approximately two-and-a half hours.


In addition, BMW Group South Africa also introduced three AC fast chargers to the Melrose Arch Precinct as part of its public charging infrastructure strategy. Plans are currently underway to expand the charging infrastructure countrywide with further sites in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal currently under review.


Customers in Durban, Pretoria, Johannesburg and Cape Town looking for a faster charge, have the option of the DC fast charger, which charges a BMW i3 from 0 – 80 percent in 30 minutes. DC fast chargers are located at Club Motors Fountains (Pretoria), BMW Group South Africa Head Office (Midrand), BMW Group South Africa VDC (Rosslyn), Sandton Auto (Johannesburg), Supertech (Durban) and SMG Cape Town.


In 2015, BMW Group South Africa signed a two-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Nissan South Africa to jointly expand the EV and PHEV charging grid for use by both Nissan and BMW vehicles. Under the agreement the two companies have rolled out AC chargers with Type 2 sockets at the V&A Waterfront, Constantia Village shopping centre in Cape Town. The installation of charging stations in Brooklyn Mall in Pretoria is currently in progress.


BMW i Assistance Services

BMW i3 owners enjoy the comfort of additional support services designed specifically for the needs of an EV customer. Upon purchasing a BMW i3 that is insured through BMW Financial Services a customer has access to Mobility Days, a benefit whereby they are given 14 days per annum to drive a BMW vehicle supplied by a dealership, to use to travel for longer distances (i.e. long distance travel to holiday destinations).


To make day-to-day life easier for all BMW i3 and BMW i8 customers, the ChargeNow Network app (available on Android and Apple app store) and the vehicle navigation system currently show the destinations of 20 vehicle charging stations, with more being added in the future.


Since market launch, BMW On Call has offered BMW i3 customers’ additional services. For example, in the event that there is no electricity where the vehicle is charging or the car has no range, BMW On Call will transport the car to the nearest charging station.


Market acceptance of the BMW i3 and BMW i8.

The momentum of BMW i3 and BMW i8 in South Africa has also been bolstered by adoption of the vehicles by players in various industries.


In March 2015, Kwathlano, a luxury chauffeur and tour operator service operating in Cape Town and Johannesburg, introduced three BMW i3 REX’s to its Cape Town fleet for airport transfers.


In April 2016, multinational engineering conglomerate Siemens South Africa, introduced two BMW i3 REX’s to its vehicle fleet as part of its goal to reduce its fleet fuel consumption and overall carbon foot print by 2030. The two vehicles were purchased to be used by Siemens employees to do customer visits in the Gauteng region amongst other things.


In May 2016, the BMW i3 was part of UberGREEN, a 100% electric commuting experience with the aim of reducing CO₂ emissions in Johannesburg. UberGREEN took place from 9 May to 3 June 2016 in Johannesburg. During the pilot, Uber commuters were able to request a BMW i3 electric vehicle, operated by Uber driver-partners in Johannesburg at UberX prices, helping provide a more sustainable trip at an affordable price. The UberGREEN pilot project involved five BMW i3s.


In the last quarter of 2016, Avis introduced the BMW i3 and BMW i8 to its Johannesburg fleets. The BMW i3 was introduced to the Avis Point 2 Point service, which provides customers a professional destination chauffeur service in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg. Avis purchased three BMW i3 cars for their Point 2 Point fleet and four BMW i8’s for their Luxury Fleet as part of their ongoing initiative to also lower emissions and introduce alternative energy vehicles into its rental fleet. 


EuropCar which introduced BMW i3 REX vehicles to its fleet at the Cape Town International Airport branch, making this the first time a South African car rental company offered an EV in its fleet to be driven by customers.


BMW i accolade s (South Africa):


  • CAR Magazine Green Award 2014


BMW i3

  • Design of the Year 2016 – Consumer Awards
  • Game Changer of the Year 2016 – Consumer Awards
  • Finalist in the 2015 / 2016 WesBank / South African Guild of Motoring Journalists (SAGMJ) Car of the Year Competition.


BMW i8

  • Best Styling Reader’s Choice 2016 – Independent Motoring


International accolades:

BMW i3

  • World Urban Car Award 2017
  • Green Car of the Year Award 2015
  • World Car Design of the Year 2014


BMW i8

  • Top Gear magazine’s global Car of the Year 2014
  • World Green Car of the Year 2015


For more information visit



For any questions on this press release, please contact BMW Group South Africa’s Group Communications Division as follows: 

Thando Pato

Manager: Product Communications (MINI, BMW i and BMW Motorrad)

BMW Group South Africa (Pty) Ltd


Tel:    +27-12-522-2070

Mobile:  +27-71-666-2070


The BMW Group

With its four brands BMW, MINI, Rolls-Royce and BMW Motorrad, the BMW Group is the world’s leading premium manufacturer of automobiles and motorcycles and also provides premium financial and mobility services. As a global company, the BMW Group operates 31 production and assembly facilities in 14 countries and has a global sales network in more than 140 countries.


In 2016, the BMW Group sold approximately 2.367 million cars and 145,000 motorcycles worldwide. The profit before tax was approximately € 9.67 billion on revenues amounting to € 94.16 billion. As of 31 December 2016, the BMW Group had a workforce of 124,729 employees.


The success of the BMW Group has always been based on long-term thinking and responsible action. The company has therefore established ecological and social sustainability throughout the value chain, comprehensive product responsibility and a clear commitment to conserving resources as an integral part of its strategy.






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