Vehicle News: The new-generation BMW 1 Series range looks set to be joined by an all-electric i1 next decade, according to a report out of the UK.
Auto Express claims “BMW bosses have exclusively revealed” the company is planning to introduce an entry-level electric hatchback, which could launch as early as 2021.
BMW plans to launch 12 electric vehicles and 13 plug-in hybrids over the next four years, including the upcoming iX3 electric SUV and the i4 electric sedan.
According to Robert Irlinger, boss of BMW’s i Division, the company’s line-up of flexible architecture will allow the wider rollout of electrified options for the company’s more affordable models.
“Even in the front-drive architecture you will see fully electrified cars,” he told the British publication, “You will see electrification in our whole portfolio.”
“We can rework our front-wheel-drive as well as the rear-wheel-drive platforms and both are able to show all technologies – our customers have the power of choice,” Irlinger continued.
“Whatever they demand they can get – a plug-in hybrid X3, a fully-electric 4 Series, too. That’s a big step and a big change in our strategy.”
In contrast to its previous electrified efforts in the form of the i3 and i8, BMW’s next generation of ‘i’ cars will be far closer visually to their more conventional counterparts. For example, the iX3 and i4 are expected to look very similar to the equivalent X3 and 4 Series Gran Coupe, though with obvious design differences like a closed grille and aerodynamically-optimised wheel designs.
“The i4 is the four-door sports sedan, fully electrified, clearly visible as an iCar,” Irlinger told Auto Express.
“You can see the concept of the 4 Series as a two-door coupé and the i4 is going be the four-door coupé – it’s going to be based on the concept, but it’s fully electric.”
An ‘i1’ meanwhile, will probably look a lot like the new 1 Series but with flashes of bright colour accents and a closed grille.
It’s also worth noting that the BMW Group already has an EV based on the front-drive ‘UKL’ platform in the form of the recently-revealed Mini Cooper SE.
Further to the aforementioned EV models, it’s likely the upcoming ‘iNext’ electric SUV could be badged ‘iX5’ given its similar sizing to the popular X5, while an electric 3 Series could redefine the i3 badge.
The current i3 (above), however, doesn’t look set to be replaced by a similar product.
“We are not in the normal process of having a car that has to have a successor,” Irlinger said.
Irlinger’s comment fuels recent rumours that the current electric hatchback won’t be renewed for another generation, after Pieter Nota, BMW’s sales and marketing boss, told the Financial Times there’s no specific plan for an i3 successor”.
“We are now bringing electrification more to the mainstream,” he added.