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BMW to launch sub-brand in lieu of fourth brand

by Drew Johnson

BMW has been of launching a fourth, eco-friendly brand for several years now, but the German automaker will stick with just three divisions as it launches a new range of city cars, currently billed under the nameplate. Rather than deal with the complexities of launching a new brand, BMW will market its forthcoming city cars under a BMW sub-brand.

BMW has been mulling the idea of a fourth brand for about four years now, but company CEO Norbert Reithofer revealed early this week that the automaker will be sticking with just three brands - BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce. However, BMW will create a new sub-brand to market the Project i vehicles.

"Project i is working on a Megacity vehicle as well as on new mobility concepts," Reithofer said earlier this week. "The board has now decided: this auto will be launched on the market as a sub-brand of BMW. As BMW is the innovation driver within the group, the decision for a sub-brand under BMW is the most logical step."

BMW's newest sub-brand is expected to function much like its M performance division; Linked to its BMW parent company but with its own set of engineers and designers.

BMW has yet to reveal what the sub-brand will be called, but there is plenty of evidence to support the automaker will revive its famed Isetta nameplate. BMW is believed to be working on a of the classic mini - with a possible debut at next month's Frankfurt Motor Show - and the BMW Museum has launched a new ad campaign exclusively focusing on the Isetta. More information is expected as we near the start of the Frankfurt show.