With excitement building for the 2015 Frankfurt Auto Show, we want to talk about a model that you won’t see there: the BMW i5. You won’t see it because it doesn’t exist yet, not in any form that is ready for formal announcement or public viewing. It is an important vehicle when considering other recent news, though, so let’s talk about what the i5 might look like.
BMW i5 fills the Tesla-fighter role
BMW sold more than 12,500 BMW i vehicles in the first half of 2015, a number that includes both the compact family EV BMW i3 and the hybrid sports car BMW i8. Those aren’t weak sales figures, but they could be stronger. Admittedly the i8 is not meant to be a volume seller, and the i3 might be equally niche as a city car.
It’s something of a fallacy that all EVs have to be compared to the Tesla Model S given that car starts at $70,000, yet it definitely sets a benchmark for what many think an EV should be. The Model S is spacious, it has excellent-by-comparison range with a growing infrastructure of charging stations, and it is equipped with numerous advanced technology systems controlled via an intuitive interface. While it may be a leap to say that automakers like BMW feel threatened by Tesla, they are certainly well aware of Elon Musk’s electric car company. They also know that Tesla is going to build a more affordable EV, the Model 3, eventually.
On that basis, development of the BMW i5 is more than probable. We’ll note that i5 is only the rumored name, based on BMW CEO Harold Krüger’s comments that there’s more room in the BMW i lineup between i3 and i8. It also follows from the belief that the i5 will be a sedan of similar size to the 5 Series, and there are plenty of renderings of a Model S crossed with an i8 out there if you want an unoriginal take on how such a car might appear.
Automobile Magazine says that the i5 will be available as both and EV and a PHEV with standard torque-vectoring all-wheel drive, and that it an emphasis will be placed on spaciousness for both passengers and luggage. Like the other BMW i models, liberal use of carbon fiber will keep the vehicle’s weight down while maintaining structural integrity.
New BMW i model could be a crossover
A more recent rumor says to expect the BMW i5 in 2020 and that it will be a crossover, not a sedan. Details are sparse and largely unsubstantiated, but the rumors about the powertrain on this crossover are of particular interest. They say that BMW will utilize hydrogen fuel cells to power the car’s electric motors. BMW is known to be working on hydrogen technology, and the rumored lead time might be sufficient for their fuel-cell technology to advance to an acceptable state for consumption.
Building a sustainable crossover also makes sense when considering the competition. Again, Tesla looms large as the Model X is finally set to hit the market, plus Audi and Land Rover are reportedly working on electric crossovers. With both the sedan and the crossover, it’s becoming as important to fight the other Tesla-fighters.
Again, BMW has not made any official comment or announcement on these rumored models, and we would surely have seen a concept vehicle by now if they were anywhere close to release. 2020 strikes us as a safe bet for release of such a car, with the 2018 model year being a possibility if the car is further in development than the evidence suggests.
Tell us your thoughts on the next BMW i model. Would you prefer a sedan or a crossover SUV? Which do you think BMW is working on? Let us know the next time you’re visiting our dealership. If you have other questions about BMW’s offerings, feel free to call us at Leith BMW in Raleigh.