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Gift to the world or trade bait? Tesla Motors announced this week it would open its patents for other automakers to use. That has analysts guessing whether the California-based electric-vehicle maker is looking to either swap trade secrets with other automakers or to expand the proverbial pie that represents the plug-in vehicle market. For its part, Tesla says the answer is B.

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The production version of the BMW i3 was unveiled Monday at three simultaneous events in New York City, London and Beijing. Given that the i3 grew out a BMW electric vehicle project called Megacity, the urban debut locations make a lot of sense. Since BMW literally spent years researching urban trends in the Megacity project, years when the competition was building and selling EVs already, there is a lot of pressure on the German automaker to come out with an EV that is the right fit for today's

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Just how hard is it to change direction in a BMW? While driving one of the company's vehicles, you'll find little disagreement that it can be easy, even quite pleasurable. But if you're trying to change the direction of the company itself – making the idea of driving fun play nice with fuel efficiency and plug-ins – well, then it's a bit more difficult. You need to take your time, something like five years, and you need someone like Herbert Diess.

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BMW Vision EfficientDynamics Concept - Click above for high-res image gallery

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A little more information is out on the BMW Z2 that looks to be shown at this year's Frankfurt Auto Show. According to Auto Bild, the roadster built on the next 1 Series platform will be joined by a coupe variant, just like the previous Z4 – but unlike that car, the Z2 will be a radical rethink.

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Earlier this week, the automobile world was shocked with news that BMW Design Chief Chris Bangle was not only retiring from his duties at BMW, but leaving the auto realm entirely. Say what you want about the direction that Bangle took BMW styling, but there's no evidence that the automaker wanted to see him go. In fact, all indications are that the German automaker wanted him to stay, even extending offers to take on other roles within the company.

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BMW is taking the prospect of building city cars seriously with the launch of Project i. The new research and development unit of the Bavarian automaker is being established to look at alternative solutions for urban vehicles for use in metropolitan cores where access and emissions pose growing difficulties for conventional automobiles to operate.

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