Here Are the BMW—and M—Electric Vehicles Coming by 2023
Plus: The next-gen Mini lineup may be purely electric.
Anticipating a 30 percent year-over-year increase in EV sales, BMW will offer 25 different electrified vehicles by 2023, two years earlier than originally planned. But electrified does not necessarily mean emissions-free; including the electric Mini and Rolls-Royce Phantom, we expect 12 plug-in hybrids to go along with 13 full EVs. Our sources suggest that among them, the following models are in the pipeline:
iX3, due 2020. Built in China for the global market, the iX3 is a CLAR-platform RWD-only plug-in X3 sibling good for a range of about 160 miles.
iNext, due in July 2021. The packaging of this 2.4-ton people mover (codename: i20) won't differ much from that of the show car, but camo'd prototypes suggest a less polarizing design inside and out. Together with the i8 replacement, the iNext is one of two so-called "enabler models" intended to act as high-tech showpieces for the brand. The most powerful of three versions is claimed to cost €110,000 before options (figure roughly the same figure in U.S. dollars), draw energy from a 105-kWh battery, and lay down up to 400 kW (536 hp) of power via all-wheel drive. The same source predicts a 2.8-second zero-to-62-mph acceleration time and a range of more than 375 miles. According to a person familiar with the cycle plan, there will eventually also be a long-wheelbase iNext for China as well as a fuel-cell derivative.
i4, due 2021. This car was previewed at the 2017 Frankfurt Show, while the production version is expected to break cover next year before going on sale in 2021. Spy pictures of the real thing (G26) show a four-door sedan with Gran Coupe overtones, attractive proportions, smooth surfaces, alleged best-in-class aerodynamics, and plenty of cabin space thanks to a long wheelbase. It will be available in three variants; battery packs are estimated to offer 60, 90, or 120 kWh of storage, while the electric motors are reportedly good for 100 kW (134 hp), 150 kW (201 hp), or 250 kW (335 hp). Figure America to get only the top option, perhaps the top two.
i12, due 2022. This car was previewed by the Vision M Next concept and will serve as the replacement for the i8. The restyled but otherwise evolutionary mid-engined coupe remains loyal to the plug-in-hybrid layout, albeit with a stronger, 340-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder mated to a beefed up 150-kW (201-hp) electric motor. The suspension will be thoroughly revised for sportier handling. Ling-term, this flagship (or something like it) will almost certainly go fully electric. Those in the know claim that the M division is handling the project, with the ultimate result being a striking, low-drag AWD two-seater with a brawny 500-kW (671-hp) propulsion system and a 135-kWh battery pack that won't contain any rare-earth metals.
iX1, due 2022. This replacement for the i3 (the current car is shown above) is known as U11 and is another FWD-based crossover that will add aero-efficient design elements to what is in principle the third-generation X1. The EV spin-off will offer a choice of 38- and 76-kWh batteries with ranges of 115 or 190 miles when it goes on sale in early 2022, one year after a PHEV version. U11 is believed to premiere a game-changing ultra-minimalist interior featuring a curved instrument panel, simple ergonomics, and a massive amount of earth-friendly materials. According to an unconfirmed report, a fuel-cell edition will follow suit.
2 Series Active Tourer EV, due 2022. The next-generation 2 Series Active Tourer (U06) pseudo minivan will spawn an EV variant that mimics the conceptual approach of i5/i7. The conventional Active Tourer will be phased out. Don't expect any version to come to the States.
i7, due 2023. This is effectively an EV derivative of the next-gen G70 7 Series; it's earmarked to go into production in late 2022 for a 2023 on-sale date. In contrast to the iNext, which has bespoke body panels, the i7 will look largely like the 7 Series. Both models are based on the scalable CLAR WE architecture.
i5, due late 2023. This is similar in theme to the i7, as it's a mildly restyled derivative of the future G60 5 Series. As one would expect, the various battery and motor options, as well as the two-speed transmission, will be plucked from the CLAR WE parts bin.
Additional EVs are due when BMW replaces the X3/X5/X7 from 2024 through 2027.
In addition to the Mini SE, which is based on the current Hardtop and goes on sale early next year, and the inevitable engineless Phantom, the BMW Group's electric cars also include the all-new Mini being developed under the Project Grizzly banner in concert with China's Great Wall Motors. Contrary to earlier reports, it appears that management has since black-flagged the internal-combustion versions in favor of an all-electric model range. Due in 2023, we expect a super-short-wheelbase MiniMini, a more compact and prettier replacement for the mainstay three-door version, and a Mini crossover. All three are said to be FWD, use a skateboard-style chassis, and offer a choice of 35- or 50-kWh battery packs.
At this point, BMW's M high-performance division is still a completely electric-free environment. In the long run, the Vision M Next-based fully electric supercar may highlight the sub-brand's commitment to electric mobility, but in the near to mid-term, so-called Power PHEVs will be the answer to a question more and more customers are likely to ask. The most exciting upcoming dual-heart M rocket is the X8 M SUV, which is due in 2022. Like the X8 M Performance out one year earlier, this is not just a larger and more powerful X6. Instead, the M team put together a dedicated high-performance crossover which will in its most extreme hybrid form unleash an awesome 750 horsepower. What makes all the difference here is of course the 150-kW (201-hp) electric motor which assists the V-8 in producing 738 lb-ft of total torque, which should be plenty to deliver burnouts on demand. Known in-house as Project Rockstar, the exciting cream-of-the-crop neo-SUV is characterized as a crossbreed between the X6 M and the M5 Competition, which suggests an on-demand RWD mode.
As electrification gains traction both inside automakers and with the public, the clock has started ticking faster on big conventional combustion engines. At BMW, the V-12 will allegedly not be updated to meet the EU7 emissions regulations that come into effect in 2023. Five years later, BMW's V-8 is also expected to get the axe. This does not leave engineering with a particularly generous buffer zone to prepare alternative PHEV and EV drivetrain options for the replacements of the 5 and 7 Series and the next X5/X6/X7. One would hope that the Power PHEV offensive will start with the new-generation M3/M4 coming next year, but packaging and weight issues may actually delay the launch of the muscular plug-in gear until 2023 when the new 5 Series debuts. Provisional data indicates it will feature a compact, 35-kWh lithium-ion battery pack good for 50 to 70 miles of EV motoring. Designed to work in tandem with the 3.0-liter inline-six and the 4.0-liter V-8, the standardized M Power electric motor is said to contribute 150 kW (201 hp) and 221 lb-ft.
Although details are still sketchy, we hear that BMW M is zooming in on 500V charging with a possible 800V upgrade by 2023, which would reduce the charge time of a large battery to less than 20 minutes. On a related front, BMW R&D is experimenting with next-generation supercapacitors that can sustain extreme discharge voltages, severe temperature variations, repeated boost action, and successive high-energy supercharging. In addition to the top-of-the-line M Power plug-ins, we have also been promised a partly electrified M2. As far as the new FWD 1 Series is concerned, there won't be an 1M, but a pluggable M Performance edition is in the books for 2020. Dubbed M140e, it is likely to pack a 300-hp/295-lb-ft 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, a 60-kW (80-hp) electric motor, a 35-kWh battery, and a water-injection system for a combined output of 400 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. Here, too, the estimated all-electric range is 50 to 70 miles. The only thing that's still missing is a proper halo hypercar, which could be either a hybrid or fully electric. Watch this space.