Just when it seems as if there are no niches left for BMW’s ever-ballooning lineup to seep into, news of a couple more bubble up. In 2018, the 1 Series replacement will switch from an ancient rear-wheel-drive architecture to a less expensive, lightweight, modular front-wheel-drive platform that will later underpin the all-new X2 small crossover. The slightly larger 2 Series coupe and convertible will stay on a rear-wheel-drive platform for the foreseeable future, but an all-new 2 Series Gran Coupe will switch to BMW’s modular front-wheel-drive matrix when it shows up in late 2020.
Around that same time, we’ll see an all-new four-door luxury coupe positioned between the 7 Series and the Rolls-Royce Ghost. Although a BMW coupe would normally wear an “even number” designation, management does not want to revive the little-loved 8 Series and does not own the rights to 10 Series, so 9 Series is the model’s most likely name. The production 9 Series will be a four-door, four-passenger coupe based on a long-wheelbase version of the 7 Series platform. Expected to go on sale in early 2020—six months after the present 7 Series receives a midcycle face-lift—the high-visibility, low-volume flagship will reportedly be available with a six-cylinder plug-in hybrid powertrain, a twin-turbo V-8, or a 650-hp V-12, which would be reserved for the M960i/M9. With a bit of luck, an all-electric powertrain package that Rolls-Royce is developing for the next Phantom might eventually find its way into the 9 Series as well.
The Vision Future Luxury concept pictured here, which debuted at the Beijing auto show awhile back, gives us an idea of what BMW’s next flagship could look like.
BMW is also on its way to building an all-new, all-electric car called the i6, a modern yet practical package roughly the size of a 3 Series sedan. Due in mid-2020, the i6 will be built on a new “flat-floor” component set made specifically for EVs and have lots of carbon-fiber bits and pieces. The i6 will have between two and four electric motors and might even have an all-new lithium-polymer battery pack that is reportedly half as cheap to build as today’s batteries but with more than triple the energy capacity.