Last week a top BMW executive said the German automaker is beginning to conceptualize its next i-series model and projects its release some time after 2020.
According to an Automotive News Europe interview with the R&D chief Klaus Froehlich, the gestational process is just getting started.
“We are still in the strategic research phase where we brainstorm,” he said. “Teams that start with a white sheet of paper. They talk with customers, hold workshops, then present their ideas and we decide.”
Thus BMW is starting from scratch, and a one might expect of the i-series, this will not just be one of rebranding an already existing model.
The company also plans to use its i-series research as a sort of technology funnel. So the advancements seen within the i3, i8, and eventually the third member of this group will trickle down to the rest of its consumer vehicles. For example the i8’s plug in power-train will be seen in a multitude of 3 series, 4 series and the X5.
As far as battery improvements for BMW, there is steady progress; Froehlich says that there’s a “minimum 20 percent battery density improvement every three years.”
These developments will boost the limits and performance of the i3 and i8 as newer model years are released. But it is not speculated that owners of earlier models will be able to upgrade their batteries due to their unification with the chassis.
Nor was it reported how BMW would cope with 200-mile range purpose-built EVs priced in the mid 30s by 2017 expected to come as the Tesla Model 3, Chevrolet Bolt, and potentially Ford if a rumor reported by Automobile magazine holds at all correct.
The i3 starts just around $43,000 and the EPA rates it at 81 miles range. A 20 percent increase could put it at just around 97 miles.
The similarly styled Chevy Bolt meanwhile will have double that and be priced perhaps $5,000-$6,000 less.