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Inside the Future of Mobility: The BMW i Born Electric Tour
  • November 19, 2012 : 17:11
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“These [performance V4s] are cleaner vehicles, though there is a certain mindset with American buyers who want something economical, but they don’t want to give anything up. When you bring those things together you’re looking at the i3 and i8. [The cars are] leading edge, but a lot of people don’t want to pay for that type of technology; but with this you’ve got the cool, you’ve got the substance and you’ve also got the performance.”

With a price tag rumored to be close to $200,000 for the i8 (our interrogation failed to produce a concrete number), the fact remains that almost $200K would easily fetch a number of high-powered traditional supercars. However, Miles reiterated the strength of the curb appeal: “If you look at the i8 and the statistics on it, there’s a lot of bragging rights on the car. But if you look at the Ferrari, Aston Martin or Bentley buyer, and the bragging rights with those cars—[they are] just cool cars to have. So when you can say [the i8] has 50-50 weight balance, 0-60 in five seconds, can do 87 miles per gallon, and your only complaint that it doesn’t vibrate like a V12 or a V10? Then yes, I think there is a buyer for this.”

While the event focused heavily on the future of physical transportation, an interesting perspective can be gained in the form of BMW i Ventures’ noted investments in mobility solutions, funding innovative homegrown projects that will benefit drivers. The first suite of mobile apps combines location-GPS services with convenience measures; for example, anticipating when your car will require a charge-up based on your route and finding available stations, or if necessary, a gas bar for an extended-range trip.

We caught up with the founders of one of the most innovative of these projects, an 80-plus city strong interactive city guide app entitled MyCityWay, which was born from two Wall Street executives, Puneet Mehta and Sonpreet Bhatia, with funding by NYC Mayor Bloomberg and BMW i.

Mehta asked us, “Can we outsource our sixth sense to the [computing] cloud and let MCW lead the way?” That is, can we combine our reliance on a number of sites and devices into one central info-hub, and trust it with our day-to-day schedule? “[MCW] will help you look around corners, predict what you might need before you even ask for it. We have built a platform which can plug into media companies so that they can engage their audience.”

Taking the app for a test drive, we were able to customize everything from our preferred route to work, with scheduled stops for coffee, to errands we might need to run on the way. The beauty of MCW is that as it learns your schedule it will automatically keep track of everything from traffic delays (to alert you to leave earlier) to where lower gas prices are (knowing your fuel tank), to what you should wear based on the weather, even giving third-party companies options to offer perks to users based on their habits (Lacoste discounts popped up on the model we were playing with).

While it’s inevitable that change in both transportation and mobility has already begun to occur around us, the increasing rate of adoption will more or less serve as a catalyst for how soon we will see certain technologies such as the i3 and i8 as a common occurrence on the road. Advancements such as we’re seeing in the production and development of these vehicles, studies such as Urban Mobility and exciting new applications like MyCityWay are really just the tip of the iceberg of what lies ahead in this field.

The Born Electric Tour does a great job of offering up a glimpse of what the future could potentially hold for us, but what it really proves is that the journey to that city full of zero-emission sports cars and predictive phones and dashboards is one that requires the input from the citizens of today, and it will ultimately be up to us to shape the reality of tomorrow.

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read more: lifestyle, cars, bmw

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