In addition to the widely reported EVs derived from its global top-selling models like the BMW 3 Series, BMW X1, and BMW 5 Series, BMW Group has planned electric cars which it has managed to keep off the radar. Two of such unannounced, secretive EV projects are BMW i1 and BMW i2, coming from the British media.
According to a new report from CAR magazine, a BMW i1 entry-level EV was almost given the green signal for production a year ago. Nine months later, though, the company is at crossroads about choosing its platform. The British publication didn’t say if the i1 would be a 1 Series successor and thus a compact car, or something smaller.
Initially, the i1 could have been built on the same platform co-developed with Great Wall Motors, underpinning a new 3.5-metre-long MINI city car rumoured to be called MINI Minor. Now, the Die Neue Klasse platform presents a proper in-house alternative. Whether this new platform will be usable for city cars initially isn’t known. The first model built on it is scheduled to debut in concept form at IAA 2021 and arrive in the first markets in 2025. German compatriot Daimler is developing its Smart city models on Geely’s Sustainable Experience Architecture debuted on the Zeekr 001.
Industrial designer Giorgi Tedoradze has rendered a BMW i1, presenting it as a three-door urban car. The dimensions hint at A-segment positioning, although with a dedicated EV platform, the interior has to be bigger than that of a traditional city car. The large, vertical kidney grille makes the car brawny, and along with the sleek and sharp headlamps, it provides it an aggressive styling at the front. The low and short hood, extremely rakish windshield, short overhangs, big five-twin-spoke alloy wheels, low-profile tyres, two-tone paint scheme, and contrast colour stripes give a sporty appearance to the rendered i1.
Any news on the BMW i2 is to be taken with a pinch of salt, as CAR magazine calls it “the unlikely one.” There are mixed views about this model, with some saying it’s nothing more than an idea, while others, confident about its conception. The believers see it as a pure electric long-wheelbase 2 Series Gran Coupe designed for China. However, if an i2 is indeed planned, a crossover shape would make more sense in terms of volumes.
One exciting speculation about the BMW i2 is that it would be a pure electric variant of the next-gen BMW 2 Series two-door model. Reports, including a piece from Autocar, say that the two-door model will come in only a coupe version (codename: G42). However, other available evidence suggests that a Convertible version could also be a part of the range as an EV.
BMW’s CEO ‘teases’ an electric convertible
Talking about the level of flexibility BMW Group’s architectures offer in an interview with Auto Zeitung last month, Oliver Zipse, Chairman of BoM, BMW Group, dropped a big hint about a pure electric BMW 2 Series Convertible. He said that the 2 Series Coupe and X7 sit on the same architecture and that technically it is possible to offer an electric convertible. “How many electric convertibles do you know in this world,” Zipse continued, indicating that the company could be studying the business case of an electric convertible, which could become the BMW i2. He mentioned that BMW Group owes it to its customers to continue selling models with strong characters and emotions, including “coupes and convertibles.”
In more recent updates, reports say that BMW Group has filed new trademark applications for ‘BMW i2’ and ‘i2’ names. The company has owned rights to these names in countries for many years. While possibilities of a BMW i2 coming to showrooms exists, we reckon the new development is more of a legal formality to protect the names in all the countries possible and deemed necessary.
BMW’s EV strategy
BMW Group plans to have 13 EVs in its showrooms by 2023, and thereby achieve ICE-ban readiness. While some of them are MINI models, most would be BMW electric cars. By the end of 2025, it aims to increase its cumulative EV sales to around two million units. By 2030, no less than 50% of BMW sales would come from EVs.
Featured image: BMW i1 Isetta by Giorgi Tedoradze