Among the models at the centre of BMW’s electrification strategy is a further developed version of the continuously evolving i3, the Mini SE, the iX3 and the i4. BMW will follow that with a more advanced range of premium electric cars employing solid-state batteries and autonomous driving features, previewed on the recent iNext concept car.
Talking about the i4, Krüger said: “The leading factors that will set it apart are fantastic design, which is very different to anything else on the road, and the fact that it is lighter and therefore more dynamic than anything we see on the market today, thanks to the materials we will use. Couple that with the connectivity technology we are constantly developing and we are confident it will lead the market.”
Sources suggest BMW is considering two drivetrain options for the i4. The first uses a front-mounted electric motor in combination with a fixed-ratio gearbox and an electric propeller shaft to channel drive to the rear wheels. This layout would give the i4 traditional BMW traits and, according to one source, the best possible weight distribution.
The second, and more costly, option is to use two electric motors: one driving the front wheels and a second within the rear axle assembly driving the rear wheels.
Similar to the system that’s set to appear on the iX3, it offers the choice between front and four-wheel drive, depending on the drive mode that is selected. To achieve performance targets similar to those of the current 335d, BMW is banking on a total output for the electric motor set-up of the i4, whether as a single unit or dual units front and rear, of approximately 350bhp.
BMW's electric revolution begins in the sales charts
BMW’s sales of electrified models have increased rapidly in the past two years. In January 2017, it registered 5232 plug-in vehicles globally, but that figure had more than doubled to 13,271 by December. The company registered on average more than 10,000 electrified models per month in 2018.
These registrations are more significant viewed as a percentage of BMW’s total sales figures. In January 2017, this was an unremarkable 3.2%, but in August 2018, it was 6.7%. Surprisingly, the most popular plug-in BMW Group model in 2017 was the i3 – a car that has been in showrooms since 2013 and failed to meet targets for many of its years on sale.
A total of 31,482 were registered in 2017, nearly double the number in 2014. Despite this, BMW still has a long way to go to achieve its 2020 target of 500,000 electrified vehicles sold annually.