BMW joins the electric party with new zero-emissions concept.
The Bavarian automaker has revealed a fresh electric powered four-door sedan concept at the 2017 Frankfurt motor show, confirming it will see production as the third model in its i brand line-up.
Dubbed the i Vision Dynamics, the new four-door sedan is claimed to possess a 0-100km/h time of less than 4.0 seconds and a top speed over 200km/h, along with a zero-emission range of up to 600km.
Production is set for 2021 and will wear the i5 badge when it arrives in showrooms, joining the smaller i3 and hybrid i8.
“With the BMW i Vision Dynamics we are showcasing how we envisage future electric mobility between the i3 and i8: a dynamic and progressive, four-door Gran Coupe. We are electrifying the heart of the BMW brand,” said BMW chairman, Harald Krueger.
The i Vision Dynamics has a low and sporting silhouette with reduced form language and the sort of taut surfacing treatment that characterises other i brand models.
Various design cues include a bold kidney grille and distinctive hockey stick shaped headlamp graphics and heavily contoured bonnet at the front.
A heavily angled windscreen reaches well back towards the rear, giving the i Vision Dynamics a short boot deck typical of BMW sedan models that is bookmarked by heavily sculptured tail lamps with a flowing signature look. The sizeable wheel wells houses 22-inch wheels.
The i Vision Dynamics is 167mm longer, 122mm wider and 42mm lower than today’s sixth-generation 3-series. A long wheelbase also provides for short overhangs aimed at maximising interior space.
“With the i3 and i8 we have designed a city car and a sports car,” says BMW design boss, Adrian van Hooydonk. “Now we are therefore demonstrating how the product range and the design language of BMW i can be evolved further into other concepts.”
Although the new car is very conceptual in nature, BMW claims early engineering work on the production version of the i Vision Dynamics has already begun.
“We’ve worked hard with the engineering team to ensure the proportions of the concept will be carried over to the production car. It is not too far away from what you can expect,” says van Hooydonk, adding, “We’re very serious about this car. Most of what you see will be carried over.”
The basis for the new concept is a future evolution of today’s CLAR (cluster architecture) platform. It will be used by a whole range of future BMW models offering the choice of either rear- or four-wheel drive compatibility.
Commenting on the technical aspects of the new i model, BMW R&D boss Klaus Fröhlich said: “The i model we have planned for launch in 2021 will incorporate our fifth-generation battery electric system – a step that will take us to the next level.”
BMW’s fifth-generation battery electric system has been conceived around a new generation of battery cells and electric motors, providing what Fröhlich describes as “a big leap in energy density and overall range” over the existing i3.
While focusing on electric power for the production version of the i Vision Dynamics, BMW says it could also support a hybrid driveline featuring a small petrol engine and electric motor. “We’re still deciding on what we’ll offer,” says Fröhlich.
Drive can also confirm plans by BMW to provide the new i brand model with advanced new autonomous driving technology. Details remain scarce, although Fröhlich said future i models will be differentiated from BMW’s more mainstream electric-powered models planned for introduction by 2025, including the upcoming Mini Electric and X3 Electric, by innovative technology such as Level 3 and Level 4 autonomous driving technology.
“We’re going for a top-down approach on autonomous driving technology. We want to understand Level 5 first. It will likely arrive in 2025,” he said.
Provision for Lidar laser scanners has been made within the roof of the i Vision Dynamics.
“By 2025, we will offer 25 electrified vehicles - 12 will be fully electric,” Fröhlich said.
The i Vision Dynamics lands alongside other new BMW models in Frankfurt, including an electric-powered Mini. Also under development at BMW is an electric-powered version of the new third-generation X3 and a range topping i brand model known under the working title iNext.
At the presentation of the new i brand concept in Frankfurt motor show, Fröhlich said it was separate to the iNext: “They are two completely different models.”
The iNext, which builds off the Vision Next 100, is set to take the form of a high-riding crossover-style SUV model, according to BMW sources privy to initial styling proposals, who suggest it will receive the i7 name.
BMW development boss Fröhlich said the brand's shift to electric comes at a time when public opinion of car makers is low. In an apparent nod to the Volkswagen dieselgate scandal, he said "The actions of some have severely compromised the credibility and trustworthiness of our industry. As a result, we now face tighter – and sometimes irrational – approaches to legislation. Around the world, regulations on fuel consumption, emissions and safety are changing faster than ever before".
BMW is investing $350 million into a battery research and development facility so it can control the production and supply of its batteries in house.
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