BMW is determining what model type will join its “i” family of low-emission vehicles, BMW Group r&d chief Klaus Froehlich told Automotive News Europe, adding that latest addition would be launched after the end of the decade. “We are still in the strategic research phase where we brainstorm,” he said. He also disputed press reports claiming that the third model would be a variant of the X5 premium large SUV.
Froehlich remarked that since the “i” sub-brand’s mission is to change the perception of how a low-emissions car should look and perform, the carmaker will not re-package an existing model and call it an i model.
He noted that the i sub-brand is supposed to be a springboard for cutting-edge innovation that would progressively be transferred into BMW’s other models – like carbon fiber (i3 and i8) and plug-in hybrid powertrain (i8).
The luxury carmaker will first focus on steadily improving the i3 and i8 before launching the third model. Froehlich said that BMW has a minimum 20-percent battery density improvement every three years, which means they will offer better performance and/or higher range over the i3 and i8’s life cycle.
He added that retrofitting current i3 and i8 with more powerful electrical powertrains in the future does not make sense.
He quipped that when better batteries are available, BWM would offer models with a longer range or with the same range but at a lower price. He noted that battery replacement is very complex since they are integrated and bonded into the chassis.