The BMW 3-Series sedan has been given full electric capability for the Chinese market, where it will be sold under the i3 name.
The new model, based on the long-wheelbase Chinese-market version of the traditional BMW 4-door, goes on sale in May, shortly before the quirky 9-year-old i3 hatchback bows out of production at BMW’s Leipzig plant in Germany.
The sixth model to be sold under BMW’s i electric-vehicle sub-brand will be launched in rear-wheel-drive i3 eDrive35L guise.
Drawing on developments brought to the Chinese-built iX3 launched in 2021, the i3 eDrive35L sedan receives a single electric motor. Placed at the rear in an electrified axle assembly, it develops the same 282 hp and 295 lb.-ft. (400 Nm) of torque as it does in the rear-wheel-drive iX3.
Energy for the motor is provided by a 66.1-kWh (net) lithium-ion battery using cells provided by Chinese supplier CATL. Mounted in a modified version of BMW’s CLAR platform structure, it can be charged at up to 11 kW on an AC system and to 95 kW on a higher-powered DC system. The charging time from a 10% to 80% state of charge is estimated at 35 minutes.
By comparison, the iX3 uses a larger 74-kWh (net) battery that can be charged at up to 150 kW.
BMW claims a 0-62 mph (100 km/h) time for the i3 eDrive35L of 6.2 seconds. An official top speed has not been announced. However, BMW officials suggest it will be limited to the same 112 mph (180 km/h) as the iX3, as is common for Chinese-market models.
An official energy consumption figure of 14.3 kWh/100 km on the Chinese Light Duty Test Cycle procedure points to an overall range of 327 miles (526 km).
The i3 eDrive35L is based on the long-wheelbase Chinese market 3-Series L. It features a wheelbase that is 4.5 ins. (114 mm) longer than that of the standard-wheelbase model sold in North America, extending its length to 191.8 ins. (4,872 mm) overall.
Inside, the new model receives BMW’s eighth-generation operating system and what the automaker describes as a “wide range of cutting-edge digital features and services making their 3-Series debut.”
The packaging of the battery and power electronics reduces trunk capacity over standard gasoline and diesel versions of the existing seventh-generation 3-Series by 2.8 cu.-ft. (80 L) at a claimed 14.1 cu.-ft. (399 L). This is 0.9 cu.-ft. (25 L) more than that offered by the BMW 330e plug-in hybrid.
The i3 sedan is the second electric BMW model to be produced in China, following the iX3.
As with its electric-powered sibling, the new 4-door model is produced in a joint venture between BMW and Chinese automaker Brilliance in an operation called BMW Brilliance Automotive headquartered in Lydia, Shenyang.