BMW is currently in the process of mulling the basic design of the upcoming electric i5 model — with options including a sedan along the lines of a Tesla, and a stretched version of the i3, amongst others — according to recent reports.
The news is coming to us via comments made by the head of sales and marketing at BMW, Ian Robertson, in an interview with Autocar — so they’re worth taking note of.
“You will see more i products,” stated Robertson, “and we are in the final stages of deciding what the next car will be and when you’ll see it.”
Regardless of any design finalization though, production likely won’t begin for at least another few years.
Gas 2 provides more:
Robertson admits that sales of the i3 have been somewhat lower than expected. Initially, the company had trouble keeping up with demand, as it learned how to mass produce the car’s innovative carbon fiber chassis. But those teething problems have long since been solved. “We see lots of outside factors involved,” he says, “including range anxiety, incentives in some countries but not in others, and the price of fuel [in the United States]. But sales of the i3 are up 60% year on year and it’s the third best-selling EV in the world. We’re convinced the i steps have been right.”
Robertson’s comment about range anxiety is spot on. As good a car as the i3 is, the charging infrastructure to meet the needs of electric car drivers is still in its infancy. BMW and Nissan are partnering to install 500 DC fast chargers in 25 major US cities by the end of 2016, but that is still far less than the number of SuperCharger locations Tesla owners have access to. US customers prefer the i3 with the range extender engine because it eases some of that range anxiety Robertson refers to.
I’m skeptical that a large scale charging station buildout is really necessary, myself — most EV owners would be more or less covered with a range of 150-ish miles. The very limited range of the current BMW i3 seems to be the main barrier to wider adoption (in addition to pricing), not the lack of charging stations.