The BMW iVentures capital fund, which recently opened up shop in NYC, is prepared to invest as much as $100 million in start-ups developing wireless services that people use to find parking spaces, transportation routes and other info that make it easier to get around big cities.
The idea is the investment in smartphone-application start-ups will help BMW sell cars in the future to urban customers who want the latest technology in efficient transportation, reports WSJ.
Joerg W. Reimann, BMW iVentures managing director, told the paper the company is “not afraid that our core business” in premium-priced luxury cars “will fall apart.” But after studying future trends over the last years, the company has concluded that it can “find new customers who would not consider buying a BMW” by branching out into small electric vehicles. BMW, he added, is determined to “increase our customer base and widen the scope of our customers.”
BMW recently said it will market its urban vehicles under the name BMWi; the first models, the i3 and i8, are due in 2013.
Along with developing cars, BMW hopes to foster the creation of navigation and mobility services for smartphones like the iPhone. “We see big potential in technology in location-based services,” Reimann said.
The company has already invested in My City Way, which provides navigation and traffic services to mobile phones. BMW iVentures will announce a second investment soon, the story said.
RBR-TVBR observation: It does seem to be the trend in new car offerings: Focus on what mobile technology and services you have, such as Pandora integration or mobile internet altogether—not how fast it is in the quarter mile or how comfortable the ride is. Also, across the globe, finding parking and getting around traffic jams is getting more difficult as more people buy cars—especially in emerging nations. So automakers offering innovative solutions to help the driver out of these jams–ahead of their competition–is going to be a big goal.