While the BMW i project has so far offered a pair of vehicles, one for the city and the other with a sporting slant, a practical family-friendly model has long been mooted but yet to appear.
That will change with the introduction of the i5 according to Henrik Wenders, BMW i’s Vice President of Product Management, who has offered some of the first firm details of what to expect from the new i5.
In an interview with America’s Car and Driver, Wenders confirmed that the i5 will be offered as an electric vehicle, with a small petrol-powered range extender available as an option, similar to the set-up found in the i3 REx.
According to Wenders, very few i3 owners rely on the range-extending petrol engine regularly. However, to meet the needs of broadest range of customers the i5 will offer the REx powertrain to relieve electric-range anxiety.
Wenders also confirmed that, for many owners, the i3 was a second or third car in their garage. The i5 BMW however is intended as 'the primary vehicle' for owners.
That means a larger car, and although the final styling is still being kept tightly under wraps, a four or five-door offering, similar in size to the current 5 Series range and suitable for use as family transport, is the most likely option.
Like the i3 and i8, the i5 will be based upon a lightweight carbon-fibre structure, with lessons learnt from BMW’s previous mass-produced Carbon Core vehicles (like the new 7 Series) applied to the i5.
The i5’s green-focus will also have an effect on its total battery range. However, rather than simply adding more batteries in, BMW is also factoring-in the manufacture and production of the i5's batteries as part of its total carbon footprint.
“We have to provide a battery with a certain longevity, and we need to provide a battery and drivetrain that—from a CO2 investment—still makes sense.” Wenders explained to C&D.
Taking a leaf out of Tesla’s book however will see the i5 eligible for a series of progressive updates throughout the models life cycle as incremental battery improvements occur.
Despite the reveal of these key details, a launch date for the i5 range is still unclear, with development work on the potential Tesla rival still ongoing.