Neil Winton:

Germany’s BMW is turning a costly necessity to reduce fuel consumption into a profit generating virtue.
 The world’s biggest premium car maker is currently cranking up the publicity machine for the August launch of its i8 plug-in hybrid two-seater supercar. BMW recently parachuted some investment bank analysts from Europe into Los Angeles to drive the i8 and they’ve come away very impressed.
 The i8 is BMW’s second vehicle in its drive for electrification, for which it has set up a separate “i” brand. The i3, a small electric city car with the option of a small-gasoline powered range extender to shore up the unpredictable battery mileage, was launched in Europe late last year.
 IHS IHS +0.23% Automotive analyst Tim Urquhart, who wasn’t in Los Angeles, said what started out as a loss-leader for BMW to show it took upcoming government rules slashing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions seriously, is turning into an exercise of effective brand building.

The i3 long bet.