As we currently understand them, BMW’s electric vehicle plans for the next few years simply consist of incremental improvements to its current lineup, BMW i3 and i8, up until its first new all-electric car, which is not expected before 2021.
It will leave BMW out of the pack of electric vehicles that premium automakers, like Mercedes, Audi, Porsche, and Jaguar, are all planning to release in the next 2-3 years.
BMW has so far only referred to the upcoming new all-electric vehicle as “iNext”, which was believed to be the long-rumoured ‘BMW i5’ electric crossover/SUV, but a new report now suggests that it could actually be a mid-range sedan to compete with the Model 3.
The report comes from AutoExpress after having talked with Ian Robertson, BMW’s head of sales and marketing, who says that he has seen the final design of the vehicle:
“Having recently had the final design review, you can assume that it’s a bigger car rather than a smaller one, and you can assume that the packaging for the next generation of batteries has to be accommodated in such a way that gives the car a certain proportion. One thing we’ll see is that – as with most BMWs – you’ll know it’s one of our cars without seeing the badge. Proportionally it has certain design icons – the grille, light treatment and so on. With the i products, we’ve established a few new icons, so we’re bringing these forward. You’ll see this as an i product from BMW, without seeing that it’s the iNext.”
From AutoExpress’s report, it’s actually not clear if they are simply basing this off the comment or other information from Robertson, but they now claim that the “iNext” or “i5” will be a sedan sized between BMW’s 3 Series and 5 Series to compete with the Tesla Model 3.
They produced a render of the car, which is based on the “Vision Next 100 Concept” that BMW unveiled last year:
The vehicle is also expected to feature different levels of autonomous capabilities, which was first showcased in the Next 100 concept.
In an interesting but confusing comment, it almost sounds like Robertson claims the vehicle could use next generation solid state batteries:
“I think the iNext phase will have much stronger volume proportions behind it. If the next generation of batteries are smaller, thinner and with no wet and sticky stuff inside them – they’re solid state – then they can be packaged much easier.”
It doesn’t sound like BMW’s plans for its next all-electric vehicles are yet completely fleshed out.
In the meantime, we will be waiting for the new i3, which is expected this year and should feature ~50% more range and a slight design refresh.