Early this morning we left Hotel Adlon in Berlin and made our way south towards Frankfurt. A five-hour trip, giving us enough time to prepare for our meeting with Uwe Dreher, responsible for global marketing of the BMW i brand.
We spoke to Uwe on the phone a few days ago. “Can we meet at Frankfurt Airport,” he suggested, “as I have a flight to New York later this week. I am travelling around the world to prepare the launch of the BMW i cars at the end of 2013,” he said.
Actually, we are lucky to be meeting him in between his travels. We pass Frankfurt to the west, heading towards the airport. The traffic starts to get heavier as we get on the ring road. I turn to Maarten in the passenger seat, who is reading a presentation on the BMW i concept car that Uwe sent us in preparation for the meeting. “So, what’s so special about the new BMW i sub-brand?” I ask him.
“Well, to start with this is an entirely purpose-built car,” Maarten says. “The construction of electric cars has, up to now, been based on the ‘conversion’ approach – integrating electric components into vehicles originally designed to be powered by a combustion engine.”
“So that means you can be really innovative, because you don’t have the limitations of the existing car and can start with a blank canvas,” I say.
“From scratch,” Maarten confirms, “which is reflected in the car’s architecture, which they call the LifeDrive concept. These are two separate, independent functional units. I quote: A Life module and a Drive module. The upper part is Life – the passenger compartment made up of a high-strength and extremely lightweight passenger cell made from carbon fibre-reinforced plastic. The bottom is the Drive part, which brings together all the operational driving functions and includes everything a car needs to do its job.“
“Shoot!” I say, hitting the breaks, “a traffic jam. Just what we need.” The car comes to a complete standstill, before the cars in line start slowly moving forwards again.
“If you were driving a BMW i3, which will be possible from the end of 2013 onwards, you would now have a ‘Traffic Jam Assistant’ at your disposal,” Maarten says while browsing through the presentation. “It says here: By letting the vehicle ‘go with the flow’, it allows the driver to get to his destination in a more relaxed state of mind. Like Active Cruise Control with Stop&Go function, Traffic Jam Assistant maintains a specified following distance from the vehicle in front. Advanced camera technology allows the vehicle to follow the road.”
“That’s exactly what I need right now… a more relaxed state of mind,” I say with a smile. “Luckily here’s the exit to the airport. Uwe told us to meet him on the observation deck and to park near Terminal 2.”
A few minutes later we enter the parking lot in search of a spot to leave the car.
“Here’s one,” Maarten says, pointing to quite a small space that needs some advanced backwards parallel parking skills.
“I don’t really like this one,” I say, “I’d rather find an easier one.”
“If you had a BMW i3, you would have a Parking Assistant,” Maarten says. “I quote: The Parking Assistant makes parallel parking easier by performing the entire parking manoeuvre automatically. Acceleration and braking is now performed automatically, and if multiple manoeuvres are required, the vehicle can also automatically switch between forward and reverse direction.”
“I really want a BMW i car,” I say, “but until then, maybe you can park.”
© 2012 CoolBrands – Around the World in 80 Brands
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Tags: Global Storytelling Campaign, Anouk Pappers, Maarten Schafer, Around the World in 80 Brands, Around the World, 80 Brands, Around the World in 80 days, CoolBrands Storytelling, Storytelling, CoolBrands, CoolBrands meeting BMW, CoolBrands meeting BMW i, Meeting BMW, Meeting BMW i, Meeting Uwe Dreher, Uwe Dreher, Uwe, Dreher, Hristina Vasileva, Purpose-built electric car, Cool Sustainability, Consumer engagement, BMW, BMW i, LifeDrive, LifeDrive architecture, Life module, Drive module, BMW i3, BMW i8, Martina Napoleone, Martina, Napoleone,