BMW gearing up for SA hybrid debut in 2012


    BMW South Africa (BMW SA) will introduce its first hybrid, a 5 Series vehicle, to the South African market in the second quarter of 2012, says MD Bodo Donauer.
    A second hybrid, not yet identified, is likely to follow in two to three years.
    The German auto maker’s first full electric car is only set to reach South Africa some time after 2013, the date set for the global unveiling of the ‘mega- city vehicle’, as the i3 will require plug-in-and-charge infra- structure, which the country is highly unlikely to have two years from now.
    “Electric vehicles can be viable in South Africa,” says Donauer. “The question is when.
    “We will watch the South African market carefully to see when it is ready for electric vehicles. It is a trend we take seriously, but it requires infrastructure. We don’t think South Africa will be too far behind the rest of the world in the introduction of electric vehicles, but it won’t participate in the first-wave launch of the i3.”
    The i-brand is the umbrella identity for all BMW’s future alternative drive systems and mobility solutions for urban motoring, such as electric drives and hybrids.
    The first two vehicles to emerge from this brand will be the electric i3, to be followed swiftly by the i8, which will be a plug-in hybrid.
    While locals will then have to wait some time for the unveiling of the 5 Series hybrid and the i3 with its lightweight carbon-fibre reinforced plastic body, there is a range of new BMW cars to satisfy demand until then.
    These include the new 6 Series convertible which will make its debut in May, with the 1 Series coupé set to receive a facelift in June.
    The 1 Series M coupé will be launched in July, and the 6 Series coupé in September.
    Also on its way is the new 1 Series hatch.
    By the end of the year, BMW SA would have renewed 60% of its fleet in South Africa, boasting the newest fleet in the premium range, says Donauer.
    Globally, BMW will be introducing 15 new models in 2011, which includes debuts in the Rolls-Royce and Mini stables.