BMW rolls into Dover

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DOVER GT;GT; Cameras clicked at electric BMWs lined up outside Town Hall.

Representatives from the company wanted to show off how the i3 handles hills with its special technology.

« We’ve come to try and show our most loyal consumers and enthusiast customers that we have this little car that we’ve created with sustainable philosophy from start to finish. The car is built using a large measure of wind power and hydropower and is created from largely sustainable materials, which are at the same time very light, very strong and very futuristic, » said Matt Russell, technology communications manager at BMW of North America. « The car was designed to be a city commuter. »

The plan was to film the i3 navigating a specific course for a marketing video to be shown during auto shows and on the Internet. Russell said some people compared the vehicle to Ford’s Model T with regard to its mark on history.

« We’re still learning very much, » Russell said of the i3, which came to the United States last year. « Today represents another step where we demonstrate that we continue to research, continue to evolve and stretch the capabilities of the car. Taking it out of the city, all the way here to Dover, Vermont, is a key step. »

Approved by the town were three hours of filming in East Dover near Town Common on Wednesday, March 4. Russell said producers from the Green Mountain State found the location and thanked the town for allowing Holland Road, Cooper Hill Road and Rice Hill to be used. The roads were closed to traffic from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Auto racer Bill Auberlen was on set. He is said to be the most winningest BMW-sponsored racer while his engineering skills also were noted.

« Part of the reason he won so much over 20 years is that he helps our engineers make the cars faster and more efficient and more reliable, » said Russell.

Dover Police Chief Randy Johnson told company representatives a preliminary run would be done before they started down the hill and an officer would be notified when it was safe to go. Deerfield Valley Rescue officials asked for airbag details and were told the vehicle was very safe. Highway Department staff were also on site. Parking at Town Hall looked similar to the day before when Town Meeting was held there.

Independent Television and Film Festival Executive Director Phil Gilpin Jr. was approached about the project after hosting BMW Car Club’s « Oktoberfast » at the Dover-based festival for the past two years. He said the event brings 50 to 60 of the company’s vehicles to town. The two Vermont producers who shot a promotional video for the Car Club at ITVFest were later asked to find a suitable mountain course. They called Gilpin, who immediately got on the horn with Dover Economic Development Director Ken Black to get the roads closed. A special Selectboard meeting was called for the request.

« This is a great example of how having something like ITVFest brings a major international brand to town to film a commercial, » said Gilpin. « These are the ways that bigger things start to happen. »

For the future, Gilpin suggested the possibility of offering incentives or locations in exchange for production credits for the town. He said BMW representatives had taken up an entire inn for two nights and they were eating and drinking mid-week, a time known to be less busy in Dover.

Contact Chris Mays at 802-254-2311, ext. 273.

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