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Report: Next BMW Project i Car Coming After 2020

Tweaks to i3, i8 coming in next few years.

Andrew TrahanphotographerConner Goldenwriter

A new report from Automotive News Europe outlines the future of BMW models wearing the new "i" badge. Automotive News Europe reports there are no current plans to repackage a hybridized version of an existing BMW model as part of the Project i lineup, but that a new model will arrive sometime after 2020.

BMW reportedly has not yet decided what the new Project i model will be. "We are still in the strategic research phase where we brainstorm," BMW Group research and development chief Klaus Froelich told AN. Because the i brand is supposed to show a new idea of what high-efficiency cars should look like, Froelich reportedly downplayed any ideas that the next Project i car would be based on an existing model.

AUTOMOBILE European bureau chief Georg Kacher previously reported that the next BMW i car would be based on the Chinese-market long-wheelbase 5-Series sedan. The sedan would not be powered by a full-electric drivetrain, but instead feature a traditional hybrid-drive setup, yet with enough electric power and range to justify the "i" badge designation. With more room for both the drivetrain and the battery pack provided by the long-wheelbase design, the future "i5" sedan would reportedly spawn a longer and larger "i7" variant, allowing the i range to be more accessible to more consumers.

Regardless of the next model, Froelich also said that the battery capacity in the current BMW i3 and i8 could be improved through the models' life. "We have a minimum 20 percent battery density improvement every three years," he told AN. "When better batteries are available, we could then offer models with a longer range or with the same range but at a lower price."

As demonstrated by the current BMW i3 and i8, the Project i models are primarily focused on efficiency through cutting edge technology, including state-of-the-art hybrid- and all-electric drivetrains and batteries, and extensive use of carbon fiber.