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German Green Cars to Become a Reality

bmwseries7Although late to the game, German car makers have announced key projects in the electric-vehicle playing field.

Daimler AG announced this week that Aabar Investments PJSC, an Abu Dhabi investment company, has become a major investor, taking a 9.1 percent share in the German car giant. The partnership will work on joint projects focused on electric vehicles and the reduction of CO2 emissions.

Other key projects will include the development and production of innovative compound materials for automotive manufacturing and social projects including the establishment of a training center in Abu Dhabi to educate talent for the automotive industry.

Daimler now has two major shareholders, Abu Dhabi and Kuwait, which has held an equity interest since 1974. Following the capital increase, the equity interest held by Kuwait will total 6.9 percent.

One step ahead of Daimler and delivering on greater fuel efficiency of up to 20 percent, BMW AG’s chairman of the board announced at its annual press conference this month that BMW’s first two hybrid vehicles — the BMW 7 Series and the X6 — will go into production this year.

However, BMW has its eye on electric-vehicle development with “project i.” Norbert Reithofer, BMW’s chairman of the board of management, announced that the first project, the MINI E electric vehicle is being tested by 500 customers in California, with customers in Berlin and Munich ready to join the project. Fully charged, the 204-hp car can go up to 250 kilometers.

The second development under “project i” is BMW’s Megacity vehicle. Although key details weren’t announced, Reithofer noted this vehicle will be the first in a range of near-zero emission vehicles, giving customers a choice between a fully electric drive and a high-efficiency combustion engine. He said large-scale production could start in the first half of the next decade.

Earlier this year, Volkswagen AG recently signed an agreement with Toshiba Corp. to develop an electric car by 2012.

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