BMW beat its rivals to the electric car segment when it released the i3 in 2013, but the city car was far too quirky to gain mass appeal. As i3 production continues, the Munich-based company is developing a battery-powered sedan named i4 it hopes will locks horns with Tesla, among other competitors. BMW released the model’s preliminary specifications.
At launch, in its most basic configuration, the i4 will be able to sprint from zero to 62 mph in about four seconds flat, with an electronically limited top speed of 120 mph. An 80-kilowatt-hour, 1,200-pound battery pack will provide a range of 373 miles on the European WLTP testing cycle, which yields notoriously optimistic figures. Expect a lower rating on the United States testing cycle, although the i4 may still top 300 miles of maximum driving range.
BMW will offer multiple variants of the sedan with different range ratings and power outputs, according to Roadshow. The i4 will be built on a modular platform that allows the electric drive unit — which packages the motor, transmission, and electronics together — to be positioned at the front or rear axle. That allows for front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, or all-wheel drive applications. The i4 will likely ship with dual-motor all-wheel drive.
Expected to borrow exterior styling from the BMW i Vision Dynamics concept, the i4 won’t just share its platform with other electric models. It will also share DNA with the BMW 3 Series and upcoming second-generation 4 Series. That will allow BMW to build internal-combustion, hybrid, and all-electric models on the same assembly line, and save costs accordingly.
The i4 will benefit from upcoming advances in battery technology, so it will be able to better handle fast charging. BMW expects it will be able to recover 62 miles of range in six minutes, compared to 17 minutes for the aforementioned i3. The company added an 80% charge will take 35 minutes when using a 150-kilowatt quick charger.
BMW will begin building the i4 in its hometown of Munich, Germany, in 2021, meaning the model might not arrive in American showrooms until the 2022 model year. Before the i4 arrives, BMW is planning to launch an electric version of the X3, and a larger crossover code-named iNext. BMW-owned Mini will also launch the all-electric Cooper SE in 2020.
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