BMW’s long awaited third i model, the 3 Series-sized i5, has reportedly been axed causing a shift in BMW’s long term electric vehicle plan.
BMW Blog reports several unspecified sources have revealed that plans for a more mainstream electric ‘i model’ have been cancelled, with BMW instead looking to adapt its mainstream models with electric drivetrains.
Whereas other manufacturers, and BMW itself, look to cost savings through flexible platforms, both of the existing i products – i3 and i8 – rely on unique, low-volume, high-cost chassis systems that are seemingly unsuitable for higher-volume applications.
Instead BMW will look to its regular vehicle lines, like the upcoming X3, with specific EV models adapted of its existing platform rather than a full stand-alone product line, similar to what the brand already does with its iPerformance plug-in hybrid X5 xDrive 40e and 330e models.
At BMW’s annual general meeting earlier this month, CEO Harald Krueger stated: “From 2020, we want to be able to build electric, plug-in hybrid and combustion-engine variants of each model series on the same line” hinting at the next stage in BMW’s electrification plans.
In a separate statement earlier this week, Krueger expanded on the BMW group’s electrification plans. “The all-electric MINI and the all-electric BMW X3 will mark the beginning of the second wave of electrification for the BMW Group, benefitting from the ongoing technological progress we are making in this area.”
A family-sized electric X3 has the potential to boost BMW’s electric sales, with the BMW brand already leading the prestige plug-in hybrid sales charts globally through the combined sales of its i8, i3 Range Extender and iPerformance 3 Series, 7 Series and X5 ranges.
Unlike an entirely unique vehicle, development costs for an electric version of an existing model line would be drastically lower, and any drivetrain adapted to fit one of BMW’s combustion engine models has the potential to be more easily spread throughout the range.
Although an electric X3, Mini, or 3-Series may not have the brand cachet and marketing pull of a totally unique product, as BMW continues to establish its ‘e-mobility’ credentials the figures for growing the iPerformance side of its business potentially look more favourable.
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