FRANKFURT, Germany – BMW reveals a new electric-powered 4-door sedan concept at the Frankfurt auto show, confirming it will see production as the third model in its i brand lineup.
Called the i Vision Dynamics, the new car is claimed to possess a 0-62 mph (100 km/h) time of less than 4.0 seconds, a top speed over 124 mph (200 km/h) and a zero-emissions range of up to 373 miles (601 km).
Due to reach showrooms in 2021, the production version of the i Vision Dynamics is to take the i5 name, bridging a gap in the i brand lineup between the smaller electric-powered i3 and the i8 gasoline-electric-hybrid.
“With the BMW i Vision Dynamics we are showcasing how we envisage future electric mobility between the i3 and i8: a dynamic and progressive, 4-door Gran Coupe. We are electrifying the heart of the BMW brand,” BMW Chairman Harald Krueger says.
BMW’s new electric sedan features a low and sporting silhouette with the sort of taut surfacing treatment that characterises other i brand models.
Various design cues are borrowed from the earlier Vision Next concept revealed in 2016 as part of the German automaker’s 100th anniversary celebrations, including a bold kidney grille, distinctive hockey stick-shaped headlamp graphics and a heavily contoured hood at the front.
The glasshouse features a heavily angled windshield, with the C-pillars reaching well back toward the rear to give the i Vision Dynamics a short trunk deck typical of BMW sedan models. The rear end is bookmarked by heavily sculptured taillamps with a flowing signature look. The sizable wheel wells house 22-in. wheels.
At 188.9 ins. (4,798 mm) in length, 76.1 ins. (1,933 mm) in width and 54.6 ins. (1,387 mm) in height, the i Vision Dynamics is 6.6 ins. (168 mm) longer, 4.8 ins. (122 mm) wider and 1.6 ins. (41 mm) lower than today’s sixth-generation 3-Series. A long wheelbase also provides for short overhangs aimed at maximizing interior space.
“With the i3 and i8 we have designed a city car and a sports car,” BMW design chief Adrian van Hooydonk says. “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 car shown here is conceptual in nature, BMW says early engineering work on the production version of the i Vision Dynamics already has begun. “We’ve worked hard with the engineering team to ensure the proportions of the concept will be carried over to the production car,” van Hooydonk says. “It is not too far away from what you can expect.
“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 BMW’s existing CLAR (cluster architecture) platform. It will be used by a whole range of future models offering the choice of rear- or all-wheel-drive compatibility.
Commenting on the technical aspects of the new i model, BMW R&D boss Klaus Frohlich says, “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 Frohlich 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 also could support a hybrid driveline featuring a small gasoline engine and electric motor. “We’re still deciding on what we’ll offer,” Frohlich says.
WardsAuto also can confirm plans by BMW to provide the new i brand model with advanced new autonomous-driving technology. Details remain scarce, although Fröhlich says 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 innovations 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 (full autonomy) first. It will likely arrive in 2025,” Frohlich says.
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 given the working title iNext.
Presenting the new i brand concept here, Frohlich says it and the iNext are completely different models.
The iNext, which builds off the Vision Next 100, is to take the form of a high-riding CUV-style model, according to BMW sources privy to initial styling proposals who suggest it will receive the i7 name.
Frohlich says the brand’s shift to electric comes when public opinion of automakers is low. In an apparent nod to the Volkswagen dieselgate scandal, he says: “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 €200 million ($239 million) in a battery R&D facility so it can control the production and supply of its batteries in-house.
“By 2025, we will offer 25 electrified vehicles – 12 will be fully electric,” Frohlich says.