Earlier this year, Harald Krüger, chairman of the board of management at BMW AG, revealed that the next BMW i product would be launched in 2021, dubbing it ‘i Next’. But he declined to elaborate beyond describing the future model as the “new spearhead of innovation and technology”.
Now sources have suggested that BMW has settled on an SUV bodystyle for its next model, reasoning that it is a shape with global appeal in a segment with booming sales and greater profit margins than hatchbacks or saloons. In addition, an SUV bodystyle more easily accommodates the bulky battery pack without compromising proportions.
Without commenting on the bodystyle, Ian Robertson, BMW’s head of sales and marketing, confirmed the firm was waiting until 2021 for its next major launch so it could take advantage of “the next big steps in electric motor, battery and autonomy”.
He said: “We are at the very early stages of i, but already we’re coming up to our 100,000th registration. Just as with M, there are opportunities that take time to build up, from i cars to i Performance products to i kit, such as an electric scooter.
“We conceived the i brand to work for the long term. The electric car market is emerging but we see enough to be confident that consumers are understanding what it is about. What’s more, 80% of i customers are new to BMW.”
Robertson added that the lessons learned from the i3 and i8 continue to give BMW an advantage over its opposition. He said: “The beauty of those cars is that they give us a competency in the field of electric cars and lightweight technology — not just in people, but in manufacturing, too. We are way ahead in the manufacturing of lightweight carbonfibre, for instance.”
Between now and 2021, the i8 Roadster will be launched — most likely in 2018. No details have been confirmed but sources say it will share the coupé’s powertrain and closely reflect the i8 Roadster concept first revealed in 2012.