BMW’s first attempts at EVs, the i3 and the i8, were a bit of a swing-and-a-miss, in terms of attracting mass-market appeal. The German automaker intends to right the ship, however, by mimicking the Tesla Model 3 with a compact pure-electric luxury sedan of its own.
- BMW’s forthcoming compact electric sedan, the i4, expected to take on Tesla Model 3 in size and capability.
- Due for debut in 2021 as a 2022, it is said to offer AWD and more than 372 miles of range per charge.
- Pricing is expected to start around the $50,000 mark.
BMW has learned its lesson with the narrow-tired i3 hatchback and the expensive but small i8 sports car, both of which failed to attract mass-market buyers — the kinds of customers a brand needs in order to spur EV adoption.
With those oddball EVs in its rearview mirror, BMW is developing a more staid compact electric sedan aimed at attracting would-be Tesla Model 3 buyers. It’s called the i4. And it is due for debut in 2021 as a 2022 model year vehicle.
In March, BMW released some teaser images of the i4 undergoing some winter testing. However, thanks to a recent Car and Driver report, we now know a bit more about Bimmer’s all-electric sedan.
The i4 will ride on the same platform as the current all-new 3 and 4 Series sedans called the Cluster Architecture, or CLAR. This distinguishes it significantly from most pure-electric vehicles on the market today. That’s because virtually all EVs ride on their own distinct platform. Take the Chevrolet Bolt EV and the Jaguar I-PACE as perfect examples; their respective chassis share nothing with any other of their brand stablemates.
BMW i4 undergoing winter testing at the Arctic Circle. (Photo: BMW)
BMW’s i4 is expected to offer a slew of battery pack sizes. The largest of which will return more than 372 miles of range per charge, according to BMW. This despite being built as an internal combustion engine-centric platform adapted for electric.
A single-motor option will be available, although dual motor will likely be standard, as it is with the Model 3. This will make the i4 an innately all-wheel drive EV. With both its electric motors spinning at full power, i4 will likely do 0 to 60 miles per hour around the 5.0 second range and hit a limited top speed of 125 miles per hour not long after. That plebeian top speed is programmed to curb electricity-sucking high-speed cruising in order to preserve range.
Despite Model 3 ostensibly created to serve mass-market buyers, starting at around the $36,000 range, few examples can be had at that price. Most Model 3s are transacting around the $50,000 mark. And that’s exactly where the i4 is expected to start, making it realistically competitive with Model 3.
So why would a buyer choose an i4 over a Model 3? Not only will it likely offer a far less Spartan interior, it will be built by a brand that knows how to mass produce high-quality vehicles that are backed by BMW’s nationwide dealer network. Tesla struggles to build its vehicles correctly and on time and then on the road they suffer from low reliability. You can’t say the same for BMWs.
The i4 isn’t the only pure-electric vehicle Bimmer is planning for debut in the coming years. It also put on sale a iX3 and a futuristic electric halo car called the iNEXT, which will also be packed with autonomous technology.