Four doors, coupe profile.
The BMW i4 concept is almost production-ready, with a new roundel logo for a new EV era
If we’re to judge by the Concept i4, BMW’s confidence in its electric i sub-brand seems to be growing just as its kidney grille looms ever larger. Are big grille jokes old yet? In any case, BMW is finally offering an all-electric model that’s neither stuck in an urban commuter niche like the i3 nor restricted to the luxe GT sphere like the six-figure hybrid i8. The i4 is basically an all-electric 4 Series, and despite the concept name, it’s clear that this car is awfully close to production-ready.
Take a glance at the car below—the concept we saw back in November of last year—and the model BMW unveiled this week just under that:
This newer i4 iteration has more production-friendly door handles and a more sensible greenhouse profile. The taillights, shown below, are more integrated into BMW’s current design language. The rearview mirrors, although we’d guess there’s a cornucopia of camera views, now feature some glass, compared to the needle-thin protrusions of the earlier concept. Also, the whole car rides high enough to be feasible on public roads (and, more specifically, public curbs).
There’s even a space for a front license plate… if you wear white gloves and concentrate extremely hard. And maybe use superglue.
In case you were distracted by all that Frozen Light Copper paint, the i4 also bears BMW’s newly designed roundel. The new badge is lower profile than its domed predecessor and ditches the circular black background to show off the paint color beneath it. The blue-and-white center, without the black lines separating each quarter, has a more minimalist interpretation—in keeping with the times. (Hang on, did someone say big grille? Oh right, it’s an “intelligent panel” on the i4.) However, BMW has since confirmed that this logo won’t be gracing any production cars; aside from the concept version of the i4, the new low-profile roundel will be reserved exclusively for the brand’s communications.
The fifth generation of BMW’s eDrive will enter production in the form of the iX3 crossover this year, cruising around in compact SUV form before it scoots around the four-door 2021 i4. Riding on the same modular platform as the upcoming 3 and 4 Series, the i4 should be able to hold its own with even the hotted-up M3 and M4; BMW confirms that, in the i4, the eDrive electric motor will make 530 very quiet horsepower. That’s paired with a new 550-kg (1212-pound), 80-kWh battery pack, with a promised EPA range of around 270 miles (the EPA just handed Tesla’s Model Y a 315-mile estimate). BMW says that its “four-door coupe” will swish to 60 mph in four seconds flat.
In case you’re worried about the lack of aural drama, BMW rounded up Hans Zimmer to help create “individual sound worlds” to correlate to each of the i4’s driving modes: Core, Sport, and Efficient. What’s a sound world, you ask? We’re not entirely sure, but it includes what you hear upon starting the vehicle and the sound of the doors. The cabin also thoughtfully changes the color of the ambient lighting depending on which mode you’re in, just in case the gigantic curved screen didn’t make that obvious.
BMW also declared that by 2023, 25 models in the Bavarian lineup with “electrified drive.” This latest generation of eDrive, with its motor, transmission, and other electronics tucked into a single housing, can be used on its own, as in the i4, or in plug-in hybrid vehicles. The battery pack has a charging capacity of up to 150 kW, which figures to about six minutes of charge time per every 100 km (or 62 miles). Keep your eyes peeled for future BMWs on this architecture, whether fully or partially electric (such as the BMW iNEXT crossover).
BMW will begin production of the i4 starting in 2021 at its main plant in Munich. Unsurprisingly, the facility will need some re-tooling to assemble these battery-powered cars, but BMW says 90 percent of its existing equipment can be integrated into i4 assembly. The other 10 percent of equipment can be retooled for a reasonable $220M.
We haven’t heard any pricing information yet, but since the i4 will tout both high-tech electric efficiency and performance figures comparable to the M3/M4, expect it to slot fairly high in the 4 Series range.