Director of BMW i design Benoît Jacob showed Car Design News the i Pedelec bicycle alongside a new version of the i3 concept at the company's new Park Lane ‘i store' in London. The compact bike folds artfully into the boot of the car, recharging its batteries when stowed. Made in limited numbers, a few i Pedelecs will run outside its contractual fleet of 4,000 vehicles at the London Olympics.
BMW's sponsorship of the Olympic Games also initiated a range of products inspired by London and British design including cosmetic makeovers for the BMW i3 and MINI Rocketman.
While the i3's exterior remains untouched its interior gets an entirely new colour and trim design featuring natural and renewable materials. The instruments' eucalyptus wood is sourced from sustainably managed European forests, treated using natural materials giving a natural finish. The lightweight seats are covered in sustainable wool and leather, inspired by British menswear, with a natural tanning agent made from olive leaves.
"We thought if we are to build a car especially for the London Olympics, we could take some influence from British design," Jacob tells CDN. "We wanted to show how we would offer the i3 production car. It will come with different characters and this is one of the possibilities."
The special edition Rocketman is unmistakably British, bathed in the red, white and blue of the Union Jack. This classic graphic is echoed through the glass roof's braces. Its paintwork is interspersed with exposed carbon components at the front and around the doors, its 18-inch alloys given white polished areas and a metallic red accent. Inside the upholstery features the names of each host city. The central storage bin plays host to a miniature basketball game, complete with tiny ballers.
The cars and bike, as well as various other BMW displays, will be housed in a pavilion in East London designed by young London practice Serie Architects. It is a calculated choice that shows Munich's willingness to embrace lesser-known architects rather than the usual starchitects – Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster & Co. – who are the safe choice for such public monuments.
Serie's two-story structure is made of steel with recycled content built on an elevated site above the Waterworks River between the Olympic Stadium and the Aquatics Centre. River water cools the building before returning it filtered to the river via the water curtain feature in a theatrical display of sustainable thinking.
"The design takes the idea of the pavilion in the park, the Victorian bandstand, but instead of one pavilion we envision nine pavilions clustered together to form a family," explains principal architect Christopher Lee Serie.
Across town the Park Lane i store completes BMW's pre-Olympics brand exercise. Sitting next to the BMW and MINI showrooms in Mayfair, this serene space with its light wooden floors and simple surfaces is designed to be a little different to the usual macho car salesroom.
With a bookshelf containing a selection of literature on the problems facing urban mobility, of growing megacities and the ultimate role of the automobile, BMW's message seems to be that electric cars are not just about making a profit for the company, but about the bigger picture of world sustainability. Park Lane is a place to learn more about electric mobility, a quite space with views over Hyde Park where you can relax and admire the fantastically futuristic i3 and i8 cars on display.