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BMW’s Electric Plans Firm Up

Expanded EV lineup includes Model S, Model 3 fighters

While Elon Musk took 400,000 orders for an electric vehicle he hasn’t even built yet, BMW’s goal of producing 400,000 EVs by 2020 cannot be achieved by the quirky, expensive i3 alone. So the company is now trying to figure out how to expand its electric vehicle lineup to help achieve its target.

The new X3 eDrive arrives in late 2018, but it’s a relatively straightforward X3 spin-off powered by a 225-kW motor fed by a 70-kW-hr battery that will be built in China to Chinese rules. However, the Munich grapevine says a genuine 3 Series-sized EV is in the works, though sources are not clear when the car will debut; some are suggesting 2019, others 2021 or even 2022.

Nor is it clear whether this Tesla Model 3 fighter will be marketed under the BMW or Project i nameplate. The low-drag five-seater reportedly mixes bespoke front and rear suspension with the flat-floor, battery-carrying center section borrowed from the X3 eDrive. Two distinctly different versions are being considered for launch – a RWD model featuring a 235-kW motor and an AWD version good for around 300 kW. Target range is 250 to 315 miles.

Then there’s Tesla Model S rival known as i20, though it may be called i5 or i6, which is planned to slot in between the 5 and 7 Series sedans in terms of overall size. The only confirmed body style is a stylish and sporty five-door with an elevated coupé roof. Those in the know predict scalable batteries (70/80/90 kW-hr), plus a related choice of three different e-motors, and a target range of between 315 and 375 miles.

In the meantime, the i3 has received an optional long-range battery and will be facelifted next year when a more powerful i Performance version is added to the lineup. In 2022, the next-generation i8 will ditch its internal combustion engine altogether to become a thoroughbred EV with three motors and a power output of more than 500 kW.

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MSRP $41,100 230i Convertible