The BMW i5 is apparently already in the planning phase, in spite of the fact that the i3 and i8 haven’t even been released yet, according to an insider at the company. The i3 is set to hit the European market on November 16, and the American, Chinese, and Japanese markets sometime in 2014.
UK magazine What Car? reports that the larger BMW i model will likely be a crossover or a saloon — it’s still undecided if the model will be fully electric, a range extender, or a plug-in hybrid.
What Car? has the specifics:
A senior BMW source has told What Car? that the critical success being enjoyed by the Tesla Model S, particularly in the United States, has already convinced many within the i project that there is potential for a model larger than the i3.
The i3 is focused on ‘mega cities’ such as London, and even if the i5 has a longer range to allow more out-of-town motoring, it’s still likely to be aimed at suburban buyers. That makes some sort of crossover (perhaps something similar to the forthcoming X4 instead of a regular SUV) the most likely choice, since that car could offer the raised driving position favoured by many town users.
“We are having these discussions right now,” the insider stated. “And no decision has been taken. In fact, there’s still not an absolute decision that the car, if it is called i5, should even happen. Many, including myself, believe that there is potential. Then if we decide the car should happen, we need to decide if it is a regular sedan or something where the passengers are sitting slightly higher up.
“Then after that we need to decide whether a car of this size can be a fully electric edition, like the i3, or whether it needs to be a range-extender – or perhaps even a plug-in hybrid. That could ultimately be the best solution for that model; we don’t know yet.”
Some things that are more or less set in stone already, though, are a few key things that the BMW i brand values — rear-wheel drive, extensive use of carbonfibre and CFRP (carbonfibre-reinforced plastic).