BMW’s next i-badged model could be an electric crossover

BMW X5 PHEV
A new report coming out of Germany finds the next member of BMW’s eco-friendly i sub-brand will be a battery-powered crossover designed to take on the upcoming Audi Q6 and the Tesla Model X.

The project hasn’t been approved for production yet, but BMW’s board of directors will reportedly decide whether or not to build the soft-roader in the coming weeks. Insiders say the EV stands a good chance of getting the proverbial green light for production because BMW is well aware that Tesla has already racked up over 20,000 orders for the Model X. In short, the demand for a roomy, upscale electric people-mover is stronger than it has ever been, especially in lucrative, high-volume markets like the United States and China.

It’s difficult to tell exactly what shape the crossover will take because it’s still at the embryonic stage of development. What’s nearly certain is that it will be offered exclusively with a battery-powered drivetrain and it will make extensive use of carbon fiber and aluminum in order to keep weight in check.

Unlike the i3 and the i8, which are built in Leipzig, Germany, the crossover will be assembled in Spartanburg, South Carolina. That means every BMW crossover save for the new X1 and the upcoming X2 will be built in the United States, and Spartanburg’s annual capacity will be bumped to approximately 450,000 units, making it the largest BMW factory on the planet by a long shot. By 2020, the factory will employ nearly 9,000 workers.

Unsurprisingly, a spokesperson for BMW declined to comment on the rumor. If the report turns out to be accurate, BMW’s i-badged electric crossover is not expected to arrive in showrooms until 2020 at the very earliest. When it lands, it could be joined by the Tesla Model S-fighting 5 Series-sized sedan dubbed i5 that will be powered by a plug-in hybrid drivetrain.

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