BMW is investing in Embark, a US based maker of new-mobility iPhone and Android apps, as the German premium car maker gears up for the launch of its new i brand vehicles.
Embark apps are designed to help travelers navigate mass transit in major cities. BMW’s investment shows car companies realize that personal mobility is evolving into a model incorporating non-automotive forms of transportation.
“BMW and Embark share a common vision for mobility in big cities,” said Ulrich Quay, managing director of ¬†BMW i Ventures. The investment “will help our two innovative companies explore ways to work together in the coming years, especially in the area of intermodal mobility,‚ÄĚ he said in a press release.
BMW i Ventures, which is part of the company’s i sub-brand, invests in new-mobility services that can help the carmaker expand its traditional business into new areas. These include e-mobility, navigation, parking, car sharing and travel that involves different modes of transportation.
The tie-up, which follows similar ones with apps such as MyCityWay, ParkAtMyHouse and Chargepoint, could also lead to the internationalization of Embark.¬†“The investment will help Embark explore ways to partner with BMW and to expand geographically,” said¬†David Hodge, founder and CEO of the company.
BMW intends to launch a range of new, mostly electric, vehicles under the new i brand. The first one, which is scheduled to come to market in 2013, is the i3, a compact city car that will be sold as a plug-in hybrid or a full-electric model. It will be followed by an i8 sports model.
In June BMW opened a dedicated i brand store in London.