After stumbling with the oddball i3, BMW has changed its approach to electric cars by developing battery-powered versions of its core models rather than launching standalone EVs.
The automaker has already committed to an electric X3 in 2020, plus an electric Mini to be launched one year prior. Now a report out of Germany claims an electric version of the 3-Series, BMW’s most important nameplate, is to be announced soon.
Citing anonymous sources at the automaker, Handelsblatt (subscription required) reports that an announcement on the electric 3-Series will be made as early as September. The car’s range is said to be at least 250 miles, though the figure is likely based on the more lenient European test cycle.
An electric 3-Series would be a direct rival to Tesla’s Model 3 which is due for a reveal in July and promised to be priced comparably to gasoline-powered 3-Series models. The Model 3 has already racked up 400,000 pre-orders, no doubt many of them from potential 3-Series buyers, and this success has seen Tesla’s market value soar to mania-like levels. Tesla’s market cap topped $61.6 billion in June, which is just $1.2 billion shy of BMW’s value.
A redesigned 3-Series is just around the corner and will utilize the same CLAR modular platform in the latest X3, 5-Series and 7-Series models. Therefore, with BMW already committed to launching an electric X3, transferring the powertrain into the 3-Series (and other CLAR-based models) shouldn’t be too costly. We’ve also heard that a new 4-Series Gran Turismo to replace the current 3-Series GT will also be coming with an electric option.
But what about BMW’s i sub-brand established for vehicles with alternative powertrains? With vehicle electrification increasingly becoming the norm, BMW has changed the focus of the i sub-brand to self-driving and connectivity technologies. The i3 and i8 will continue with updates while a new i car, code-named the iNext, will bow in 2021 and offer self-driving capability and an advanced interface.
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