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Top BMW i Engineers Leave For Chinese EV Startup

Originally published on EV Obsession.

A number of prominent engineers behind BMW’s various electric “i Series” offerings have left the company to join a new electric vehicle company in China, according to recent reports.

Amongst those who have left is a 20-year BMW veteran that was intimately involved in the creation of the i8 plug-in hybrid (PHEV) sports car — Carsten Breitfeld.

bmw i8


The new startup is apparently called Future Mobility Corporation. The company is being backed by Tencent Holdings.

Our sister site Gas2 provides more info:

Breitfeld will become the new CEO of Future Mobility and will be joined by three other senior members of BMW’s i division — Dirk Abendroth, who developed electric powertrains for the i-series; Benoit Jacob, who was head of design at BMW i; and Henrik Wenders, head of BMW i product management.

Their defection comes as BMW struggles to move its i division forward. The i3 was ground breaking when it was first introduced in 2011, but it has remained relatively unchanged since then. The i3 is in line for a larger battery and the i8 reportedly will go topless soon as well, but those developments are small potatoes compared to the blockbuster news coming from Tesla on a regular basis.

Rumors about a third product for the i division are rampant, but senior company officials say whatever it is, it won’t come to market before 2020. “That’s too long for young people who want to change the world,” a person close to the company tells The Wall Street Journal. It is believed Breitfeld and the others simply got bored waiting for the company to figure out where it wants to go next with the i division.

I can’t say that I blame them (if true). The i3 and i8 are arguably great cars, but BMW really doesn’t seem to be in any kind of hurry with regard to electric vehicles — helping a startup try to break into the rapidly changing EV sector certainly does sound more challenging and interesting. And with the amount of money some of the wealthier citizens of China have been throwing at EVs lately, I’m sure that the compensation is “fair” as well.

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