By Drew Johnson
Friday, Jun 26th, 2009 @ 12:01 pm
In order to comply with Californi's forthcoming Zero Emission Vehicle requirements, BMW will launch its first battery-powered vehicle -- under its Project i program -- in the United States by 2012. Internally dubbed the "˜City', the upcoming EV will likely be the long-rumored BMW Isetta revival.

BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer revealed to Car and Driver that the City will be a three-door hatchback specifically designed for the U.S. market. Although the original Isetta was a bit awkward -- to put it nicely - the new-age car will be low-slung with short overhangs and a coupe-like profile. Despite its small footprint and sleek styling, the City will offer seating for four.

Size-wise, the City will slot beneath the 1-Series and MINI, and even vehicles like the Honda Fit. Power will come from a lithium-ion battery pack with a range of about 100 miles. BMW is also developing a range of gas and diesel engines for the City, although those variants will likely be reserved for developing regions - particularly China.

BMW's Project i program may be soldiering on as planned, but the new range of eco-friendly vehicles has yet to find a permanent home. The German automaker is still deciding if the new vehicles should be sold under the BMW or MINI banner, and hasn't even officially ruled out the addition of a new brand.

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