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BMW’s i5 sedan is hungry for the Tesla Model S’s lunch, full-EV version planned

Finally, new details are starting to emerge about BMW’s third installment in its i-Series range. The i5 will be the first sedan in the group of electrically assisted vehicles, and its sights are squarely set on the Tesla Model S.

BMW and Tesla are not what you’d call “friends” within the automotive industry. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has publicly called BMW’s efforts with the i3 and i8 pretty weak, and BMW has stated that it never wants to partner with Tesla on battery technology.

With the stage thus set, Automobile Magazine is reporting that BMW has accelerated its production plans for the i5, bringing its sale date to 2019 from “sometime after the end of the decade.” The i5 will be assembled alongside the i3 hatch and the i8 coupe at the automaker’s Leipzig factory.

Related: BMW Firms Denies Rumors That It Will Work With Tesla

As for what will make the i5 distinct, BMW is promising excellent interior space. Thanks to the battery placement between the rear wheels, and the longer shape compared to the i3, the i5 will have the most room of the current i-Series models and will offer trunk space to rival other sedans on the market.

The juiciest bit of news is that the i5 will reportedly come in two versions: a plug-in hybrid like the i8, and a full electric version, like the entry-level i3. The electric-only model will pair a rear-mounted 225 horsepower electric motor with a front-mounted 135 HP motor good for a combined 360 horses. As for the hybrid, a more potent 275 HP rear-mounted electric motor will be paired with either a three or four-cylinder motor up front. Both versions will feature torque-vectoring all-wheel drive and a curb weight of under 3,450 pounds thanks to extensive use of carbon fiber.

With the full-electric version, BMW will more directly compete with the Tesla Model S, and while Tesla puts as much as 691 HP within the Model S’s body, the i5’s proposed weight is about 1,500 pounds less than the Model S. Between now and 2019 Tesla has quite a bit of time to improve its Model S, but the performance EV market should be quite interesting come 2019.