The BMW i8 may not be the quickest car you can buy for $150,000, but driving one sure is a great way to get attention. Even though the hybrid coupe has been on sale for several years, its futuristic design still stands out anywhere you go. And based on concepts such as the i Vision Dynamics sedan (shown above) or the Vision iNext crossover that was revealed last month, you might think BMW plans to make its entire lineup of i-badged vehicles stand out in the same way. But it turns out the brand is actually looking to tone things down and offer less design differentiation between its conventional cars and its EVs.
Speaking to Auto Express, Adrian van Hooydonk, BMW’s head of design, said the German automaker’s future electric cars will probably look a lot like its future gas-powered offerings. Why? Because very soon, he thinks EVs will be as mainstream as hybrids are today.
“I think in the next years, electric mobility will become standard; it will become normal,” van Hooydonk told Auto Express. “It will become just one of those powertrains that you can choose. And that will probably lead to the customers not necessarily wanting a design differentiation. With the original i3, we wanted to give our customers the feeling that they are stepping into the future. But in the future we will offer our customers the choice; they can be very secret about the fact that their BMW is electric, or they will be able to be overt about it.”
When Auto Express spoke to Robert Irlinger, the head of BMW’s i division, he agreed. “Yes, you could put it that way,” said Irlinger. “The vehicles will be closer to the cars we have already in market. Look at the iX3. It’s really an i but it’s also an X3. Look at the i4 and you’ll see it’s clearly an i but it’s close to a car whose name may begin with 4. We have to be prepared that our customers could say, ‘I don’t want to have a specific car. I want to have my BMW that I love in an electrified version.’”
Unfortunately for fans anxious to get their hands on BMW’s Tesla-fighter, the i4 isn’t expected to go on sale until 2021. But at least we now have a better idea of what it will look like.