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Is BMW looking to undercut the forthcoming Tesla Model E with a mid-size i5 EV sedan?

BMW i3 assembly

The BMW i3 has so many pre-orders that BMW is considering an i5 to take on the forthcoming, mid-size Tesla Model E.

Spurred on by the pre-orders of its all-new i3 model and the sales success of the Tesla Model S in the U.S., BMW is considering a mid-size electrically powered sedan.

In the internal discussions currently under way at Bimmer headquarters, the car is called the i5. That, it seems, is the only factoid about the car the Bavarians can agree upon, aside from its rear-wheel drive setup and carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) construction.

At the moment the BMW brass is at odds over whether the car should be a sedan or high-riding crossover. Once that’s sorted, however, they’ll have to decide which kind of drivetrain to fit to the i5: all-electric, range-extended electric, or plug-in hybrid.

Presently, the i Brand is comprised by the compact i3 EV, which is offered with an optional range-extending motorcycle engine, and the i8 plug-in hybrid sports car. Which direction Bimmer will lean for the i5 is anyone’s guess. I suspect, however, it’ll go for a range-extended EV, as the prospect of a full EV might be too unnerving to the BMW’s German sensibilities.

If BMW is as impressed by Tesla Model S sales as What Car? claims, though, it could very well offer the i5 – like the i3 – as an EV first and foremost.

Regardless, the i5 wouldn’t be showroom ready for several years – after Tesla itself has released a mid-size EV sedan that is reportedly called the Model E.

For a long time, I thought it’d be Infiniti or Mercedes-Benz that would ultimately square off against Tesla for luxury performance EV dominance. I honestly never figured the maker of the Ultimate Driving Machine that would take up the challenge. Either way, when BMW and Tesla battle, we all win.

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