The last time we heard about a larger variant of the BMW i3 electric vehicle called the BMW i5, we reported that it was on hold along with a rumored i1 electric city car. Now, a report from Autocar is saying that the BMW i5 is back on and will be a stretched version of the compact i3.
BMW has said from the beginning that it plans to extend the i sub-brand beyond the current i3 compact and the i8 sports car, as it has trademarked names ranging from i1 to i8. This BMW i5 would likely be a stretched, four-door version of the i3 for greater passenger space, especially in the rear. The BMW i3 (pictured) is a two-door car with small rear suicide doors for access to the rear seat. Autocar says that stretching the BMW i3’s chassis would be simpler than on a traditional car because the car’s unique carbon-fiber body sits atop an aluminum chassis, which could easily be extended.
BMW engineers would reportedly like to add around six inches to the i3's rear overhang that would make for another four inches or so of rear legroom and a larger cargo area as well. This would make the proposed BMW i5 around the same size as a Mini Countryman, but with more space inside. Due to the larger carrying capacities, it’s possible that the BMW i5 would require a larger electric motor than the i3’s 170-hp unit which provides between 80 and 100 miles of range, excluding the optional range-extender gasoline engine. The range extender also might need to be improved.
We don’t know much else about the BMW i5 at this point, but it probably won’t come to fruition until 2015 at the earliest. In the meantime, look for more news about the expansion of BMW’s i sub-brand. The BMW i3 goes on sale in the U.S. in May 2014, with the BMW i8 to follow a few months later.