BMW i's new strategy will kick-start with the launch of an iX3 in 2020
Mark Tisshaw
16 January 2018

BMW’s i sub-brand will not necessarily replace its i3 and i8 models with next-generation models.

The electric vehicles division will continue to offer its own bespoke models and produce electric versions of standard BMWs. The iX3, due in 2020 (and based on the current X3, pictured below), will be the first of 11 electric BMWs to arrive by 2025, in preparation for which BMW has patented a list of nine i names. This included i4, which is expected to be a variant of the future 4 Series GT.

However, the bespoke i models will not form a complete range of cars, and the division will instead create individual vehicles to address a particular challenge or meet a specific demand.

To that end, the range of ‘pure i cars' built on bespoke architectures that are on sale at any given time could be just one model or many more than that. The determining factor will be which new technology BMW needs to showcase before applying it to its standard model range.

The i3 (pictured below) served to showcase BMW’s method of making its first electric car and the i8 showed how electric power could enhance performance. At the end of their lifecycles, their jobs will be considered done, which is why replacements are not formally in development or in BMW’s product plan.

“We're still deciding [about] the i8,” said i boss Robert Irlinger. “We see a market for new kinds of sports cars. Whatever it’s called, or if it’s a new kind of sports car, is still in discussion.”

BMW i design boss Domagoj Dukec compared the role of the i8 to the M1 supercar. He said: “It worked at the time, but why do it more than once? The i8 could be the M1 – it doesn’t have to always be a name at BMW. We always give an answer to what people and customers are requiring at that moment in time.”

As for the i3 hatchback, Irlinger said it “would be decided by time” if the model remained a success, but it will continue to be developed in its present state for now.

Dukec added: “With new i3 and i8, I don’t know; for now, we don’t think about it. For i, there won’t always be an i3, then an i3 after – i is not a parallel universe of BMW.”

The production version of the i Vision Dynamics concept car, which is set to arrive in 2021, has the internal codename i20. The model will be built on a development of BMW's rear-wheel-drive CLAR platform.

This is one of only two modular architectures BMW will use in future. The other, called FAAR and for front-wheel-drive models, is a next-generation development of the existing UKL platform that underpins the first wave of front-wheel-drive BMWs and the current Mini range.

All BMW models, built on either CLAR or FAAR, will be able to be equipped with a standard internal combustion engine, a plug-in hybrid system to electrify the axle that isn’t driven by the engine or a fully electric drivetrain.

The configurations will include a single motor on the front axle for the front-wheel-drive models and an optional one on the rear axle for four-wheel drive; a single motor on the rear axle for rear-wheel drive, with an optional one on the front axle for four-wheel drive; and a further one on the rear axle for four-wheel-drive performance models to create a car with more than 800bhp.

BMW will offer the electric motors in different ‘sizes’, with small 134bhp and medium 255bhp ones for entry-level electric vehicles and large 335bhp and extra-large 402bhp-plus ones for performance models.

Range could stretch from 186 miles to 435 miles, depending on battery size. 

Read more 

BMW i8 review 

BMW M4 review 

BMW M5 review

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Comments
8

16 January 2018

For family transport the i3's use of carbon fibre seemed a bit over the top, saved alot of weight but at what cost. GM showed what could be done with an EV designed from the ground up with 'basic' materials and ended up with a far faster car with a greater range and I think less money.

Surely purpose built EV's will always be more efficient and I hope BMW don't lose sight of this.

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

16 January 2018
Forget the i3, the new Leaf is a better and more spacious car.

16 January 2018

If you look at sales figures on a European basis, all the top 5 selling EVs are cars that are only available as EVs. EV versions of 'normal' cars are always compromises and the market has quite clearly shown that those compromises aren't attractive (stats available www.eafo.eu/vehicle-statistics/m1)

@xxxx

The carbon build structure of the i3 was actually cheaper to produce, including the tooling, than a traditional car. A teardown of an i3 by automotive engineering firm 'Munro' found that the i3 was likely to be profitable from 20,000 units. The tooling costs were just over a quarter of the costs of tooling a traditional car. The issue with this method was it doesn't scale so easily, but it is more efficient assuming small sales volumes.

@manicm

As an ex i3 owner I'd mostly agree.

 

16 January 2018

I kinda get what you're saying but there's plenty of cars being made out there that sell in far fewer numbers than the i3 which don't use Carbon Fibre. Besides your 20,000 before profitable and then carbon fibre is cheaper for small scale contradict each other. 

I think BMW just tipped their toe in the water and didn't see the potential, just look how much better the Bolt and Leaf are, the Leaf is fast approaching a 1,000 sales a week in the US alone! BMW just can't scale up with carbon fibre 

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

16 January 2018

...it will be confusing if two of them have the same name as two of the others?  Or perhaps two of them won't have names at all.  They'll be for the ones for customers who just buy a BMW for the badge, then.  Doh!  If that we're so, they wouldn't be needing any of the first nine models, as all BMW drivers would be catered for by the other two models.  BMW - sat in the outside lane with it's fog light on.  Surely not....

16 January 2018

It looks like BMW are hedging their bets until a future path looks clear. I like the look of the iVision concept. EVs are still relatively low volume products at the moment and, whilst growing year by year, that is likely to remain the case until technology improves and prices fall. What we really need is a car better than current ICE vehicles, be that electric or whatever. I can't help thinking that if electric cars could ditch the on-board battery all together and use a pick up device (such as induction from cabling or somesuch under the road surface for example) they really could offer something amazing. Infinite range. Virtually silent running. Virtually zero emissions from the vehicle itself (if not necessarily from point of energy generation or of course manufacture). If cars ran on some kind of mag lev idea there would be no need for wheels or tyres (so no tyre particulates flying around either). The infrastructure costs would be huge of course, but maybe it's time to do what Apple used to do once upon a time and 'Think Different'.

Driven to distraction - Hotwheels

16 January 2018

It was clear from the word 'go' that both i3 and i8 were testing the water for BMW. They have done their job as guinea-pigs and now BMW (not that they will admit it publicly) will carry on with conventional ICE cars for the foreseeable future.

There will be the odd noises off to keep the gophers happy and maintain the illusion of being part of the trend for 'better everything electric' but just like Toyota and others, the bulk of the income and therefore investment will be from 'normal' cars.

Until the new types of batteries so often mooted by 'learned' people appear and prove to be economical, most manufacturers will keep their powder dry: customers don't really like to pay over the odds for vehicles already obsolete as they leave the show-room. 

Ah but there is the congestion Charge to take into account, isn't there?

17 January 2018

I think the i3 is a great design, but the price makes it somewhat redundant, as evidenced by the sales figures both here in the USA and elsewhere, and the residual values. Knock them out at the Leaf's price point and would it not replace the Leaf as the best selling EV?

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