Called the Notchback, the concept previews BMW's third 'i' model expected to be a sedan with up to 700km of range.
The i5 is planned to be introduced in 2021 as part of a range of up to 25 plug-in hybrid and pure electric vehicles announced by BMW chairman Harald Krüger in an update to the German car maker’s 'Number One Next' model strategy.
“By 2025, we will offer 25 electrified vehicles - 12 will be fully electric,” Krüger said in a statement.
Krüger confirmed the existence of the new i model, referring to it as a “significant milestone in BMW’s roadmap for e-mobility”.
The i5 is among four new pure electric models set to be confirmed by BMW at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Others include the first series production electric-powered MINI (pictured, below), an electric-powered version of the X3 and a separate i brand model known under the working title iNext.
While shrouded in secrecy five days before its planned unveiling, the i5 is expected to take the form of a four-door 'notchback'-style sedan offering accommodation for up to five adults and a pure electric range of between 500 and 700km.
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.
TMR can also confirm plans by BMW to provide the new i brand model with advanced new autonomous driving technology.
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 BMW X3 Electric, by innovative technology such as Level 3 and Level 4 autonomous driving technology.
“It’s time to forge ahead – not just step by step, incrementally working our way up from Level 2, but by mastering Level 5 from the very beginning," Fröhlich said.
"Autonomous driving requires the full range of factors: system leaps, additional redundancy requirements, computing power and connectivity. We are preparing to offer highly-autonomous driving by 2021, when the iNEXT is launched – wherever legislation allows it. And based on this, we will implement Levels 3 to 5 in our range.”
In confirming the new i model for the 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 (pictured, above) unveiled as part of BMW’s 100th anniversary celebrations in 2017, 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.
Fröhlich, who has led BMW’s R&D operations since 2014, also confirmed BMW’s plans to electrify all models through the development of flexible platform architectures and modular drivelines for both front- and four-wheel drive as well as rear- and four-wheel drive configurations.
“Our fully flexible architectures and modular systems ensure we can take fast decisions about which models to make, and with what type of drivetrain,” Fröhlich said.
“The enhancement of the architectures continues and with double battery capacity, we are now ready to integrate BEVs [into our mainstream line-up] as well. Our vehicle architectures on the one hand, and our modular systems for powertrains on the other will give us unique flexibility.”
The first models to reflect BMW’s flexible architecture strategy will be the MINI Electric, which builds off the so-called FAAR WE structure, and the BMW X3 Electric, which is based on a the CLAR WE BEV platform.
NOTE: Image, top of page, from BMW i5 teaser video
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