If you’re among those Ultimate Driving Machine aficionados who disliked the BMW i3, you’ll be glad to know the automaker will avoid a polarizing design with its successor. BMW development boss Frank Weber told German outlet Automobilwoche in an exclusive interview (via Automotive News Europe) that the i3 replacement will be more conventional than its predecessor.
“A lot of people liked it, but in the eyes of others the i3 was not a real BMW. A bit of an outsider in the classroom if you will. We will not repeat that in this form,” Weber told the publication.
What is perhaps more interesting to point out here is that the BMW i3 will have a direct successor, something the automaker had not made public until now. When BMW announced that production of the i3 would end in 2022, it said that the compact EV would be succeeded in some markets by the iX1 crossover.
However, the iX1 is larger and has completely different styling, which makes it, at best, an indirect and temporary successor to the i3. (It is also not sold in North America.) The good news is a direct successor is coming.
“BMW definitely needs to bring to market an affordable, compact car,” Weber said. “We attach great importance to offering customers the best possible access to the BMW brand. That is why we are thinking very carefully about how an entry offering can be part of the Neue Klasse family.”
The EV market is in a very different place now than when the i3 first arrived. When it launched in 2013, the market for all-electric vehicles was in its very early days. The Nissan Leaf had been on sale as a mass-market EV pioneer for almost three years, and the Tesla Model S for more than one year.
BMW wanted its first mass-produced battery-electric vehicle to stand out from its range of traditional internal combustion engine sedans and SUVs, which is why it went for a polarizing design for the i3 boxy hatchback. But the urban compact EV was so different from the brand’s sleek sedans that it drew a lot of criticism from BMW loyalists.
That said, it’s also worth mentioning that the BMW i3 developed something of a cult following, drawing many first-time BMW buyers who appreciated the quirky EV and its sustainable approach to manufacturing.
But this is also the first time we hear that the new EV-focused Neue Klasse architecture could underpin a small EV. BMW’s future EVs based on the Neue Klasse platform will offer longer driving ranges and faster charging times while reducing battery costs by 50 percent, as well as new software functions.
BMW will start production of its first Neue Klasse EVs at its new factory in Debrecen, Hungary in 2025, and then in Munich that same year. The platform will initially underpin a midsize sedan similar in size to the 3 Series and a midsize SUV that will replace the iX3.
The Neue Klasse will add four more vehicles within two years. “You can easily imagine that a lot can be created from the middle downward to smaller vehicles as well as upward to larger vehicles,” Weber said in the interview above.
BMW stopped making the i3 last year after selling more than 250,000 units during nine years of production, making it one of the most successful electric cars of all time.
Source: Automobilwoche via Automotive News Europe
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