BMW is no stranger to electric vehicles, as witnessed by the battery-powered i3 city car and plans for an electric version of the just-revealed X3 SUV. But now reports out of Europe suggest the German automaker is preparing for its highest-volume EV yet.
According to German publication Handelsblatt the success of Tesla’s upcoming and similarly sized Model 3 has buoyed the decision, with the American EV brand reporting a staggering 400,000 pre-orders for the car.
The move represents a massive strategic shift for BMW, with the BMW i sub-brand initially believed to be developing a medium-segment car under the i5 moniker utilising the same expensive carbon fibre construction as the i3 and i8.
That plan now appears to have been applied to BMW’s mainstream model, with the brand confirming that an electrified version of the X3 SUV is on the way, and EV variants of mainstream models set to become a staple for the company moving forward.
The 3 Series EV will arrive as part of the next-generation model family and is suggested to be capable of around 400 kilometres range on the European test cycle, with efficiency aided by the use of a new partial carbon fibre chassis similar to that used in the current generation 7 Series.
The first preview of the new car is expected at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, where BMW is expected to show a precursor to the new 3 Series complete with EV drivetrain.
BMW won’t be betting the farm on EV models though, despite their emergence throughout the wider model range, with a plug-in hybrid similar to the current 330e and regular petrol and diesel models also set to join the EV halo model.
The next 3 Series is expected to enter production during 2018 with plug-in hybrid and EV models to be added to the range between then and 2020.
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