Update – BMW’s testers have been photographed trialing a BMW 3 Series electric prototype in Europe. Autocar UK is carrying spy images showing an almost identical design to the current 3 Series, though the car’s ‘electric test vehicle’ sticker, the lack of an exhaust tip and softly revised front and rear fascias add strong hints that it is an early test mule of the zero-emissions 3 Series.
BMW has not confirmed that an electric version of the 3 Series is in development, but Chinese media have been aware of this future Bimmer for a while. In fact BMW has announced (above is a slide from an investor presentation from May 2020) that 25 electrified models would launch by 2023, 13 of them pure-electrics. Following the iX3 this year, Munich has confirmed the iNext SUV and the i4 sedan for 2021, and the 7 Series electric, but is keeping detailed model plans for 2022 and 2023 under a veil. The BMW X1 and the 3 Series supposedly are next in line to receive EVs.
Autocar.co.uk speculates that a variation of the BMW iX3’s electrical parts will serve the BMW 3 Series electric. The iX3 is powered by a 74 kWh battery driving a 210 kW/400 Nm motor presenting it a range of 440 km in the WLTP cycle. By 2022, the eDrive will develop further, and it could be that higher configurations of the 3 Series EV feature a dual motor (four wheel drive) to compete with the performance of a Tesla Model 3.
While an obvious choice is ‘i3’ when it comes to the name, it’s unlikely BMW would connect its saloon with a hatchback that is on sale since 2013, one other aspect we’re curious to learn more on as testing continues.
April 4, 2020 –
BMW Brilliance, the joint venture between the BMW Group and Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd, started the construction of a new plant in Tiexi, a district of Shenyang in the Liaoning Province, on April 1. An extension of the existing plant, it will ramp up the production to satiate the demand for luxury cars in the world’s largest auto market.
The new Tiexi plant will be built on an overall area of 2.9 sq. km. and will have a new press shop, body shop, paint shop, assembly shop and external infrastructure, apart from additional space for production expansion if required. The new plant will be ready for serial production in 2022 and will utilize BMW’s flexible manufacturing to make fully-electric and plug-in hybrid models, including the electric variants of BMW 3 Series and BMW 5 Series, as per reports in the Chinese media.
At the event, Dr. Johann Wieland, President & CEO, BMW Brilliance Automotive Ltd said that the new plant offers further proof that BMW Brilliance is fully committed to China and the company is very confident in China’s economy in the long-term and is ready to move forward. Talking about the new plant, Dr. Franz Decker, BMW Brilliance Senior Vice President of Technology & Manufacturing said that that this will be one of the most digitally effective automotive plants in the world, equipped with the latest technologies.
The upcoming plant in Tiexi will be the largest project undertaken by BMW Brilliance and is located bordering the Hun River, with factors such as environmental and resource conservation taken into due consideration since the company started preparing the land for construction. Working with the district government, BMW Brilliance’s construction team has come up with an environmental governance plan to enhance the overall natural environment of the Hun river. The new production centre blends BMW’s Industry 4.0 and intelligent manufacturing of China to boost the local economy and auto industry development.
In view of the COVID-19 outbreak, BMW Brilliance has put in place multiple measures to ensure employees’ health and safety before they resume work. The company rolled out its 3 millionth car from the production line after it resumed production.
BMW & Mini going all-out to build a full line of electric cars
BMW does not have pure electric variants of its regular car range today. In fact only this year has it started offering plug-in hybrid options for smaller vehicles including the BMW X1, X2 (launch impending), X3 (launched late last year) as the first serious step to electrify its complete portfolio. BMW has announced the iX3 (the pure electric version of the BMW X3) that will be built in China this year and exported to Europe. Next year it plans to launch the BMW i4, the BMW iNext SUV followed by the BMW 7 Series electric (expected as the BMW i7) in the global markets and that will provide some momentum for Bavaria’s electric carlines leading up to the launch of the 3 Series & 5 Series electric.
In 2023, a pure-electric BMW X1 is reported to launch (BMW iX1), as BMW’s entry crossover shifts to the third generation. The group brand Mini has partnered with China’s Great Wall Motor for the joint development of pure electric vehicles under Spotlight. The battery-powered MINI electric cars are expected to come out in 2022 from the new plant in the Jiangsu Province. Great Wall Motor is also expected to get electric cars from this platform as part of the arrangement.