According to a report in September 2020 from Autocar.co.uk, the BMW 3 Series will likely use the name ‘i3’ for the upcoming all-electric variant. Motor.es later provided more information on the zero-emissions German saloon car, which would be reserved for China initially.
Design & Interior
The Spanish website had reported that the BMW 3 Series Electric would be based on the long wheelbase 3 Series (BMW 3 Series Li) that is exclusively sold in China and would launch in the early months of 2022, following a debut in late-2021.
The Tesla Model 3 adversary would sport a clean design observed in the iX3, with a closed off grille, bumper that simplifies the intakes and vertical features on the sides of the bumper. A special underbody protection that doubles up as a solution to improve aerodynamic is expected and that together with widened side skirts and blue inserts, would become the optical differentiators of the BMW 3 Series EV. Not many changes are expected in the interior with a new instrument panel display and a slightly more driver-focused cockpit providing relief to eco-minded drivers.
BMW has started testing early prototypes of the new 3 Series facelift, and their spy pictures suggest that it could offer the new iDrive 8 driver-passenger vehicle interface in the new model. The company may offer the same even in the first-ever 3 Series electric as well.
The new iDrive 8 system has a wide curved display, which in its debut model iX, groups together a 12.3-inch fully digital instrument cluster and a 14.9-inch touchscreen. A new design language with catchy graphics and other modern attractions gives an immersive visual experience in the new iDrive 8 system. The voice assistant of the new system offers natural dialogue, and it can be given any desired name, which makes the whole experience even more humanly. 5G mobile network connectivity and BMW Digital Key Plus (Digital Key 3.0) support are two more highlights of iDrive 8.
Range & other specifications
Motor.es reports that the BMW 3 Series electric will have its battery positioned between the axles, and propelled by a rear electric motor. It says that a version “i330e” will be offered, with a maximum power output of 190 kW, equivalent to 258 hp, and rear wheel drive. The German brand will introduce an improved battery, going from the previous 60 kWh to a net capacity of 74 kWh, to take the range towards 500 kilometers (NEDC).
Autocar UK speculated that by 2022, the eDrive system will further develop, and it could be that higher configurations of the 3 Series EV feature a dual motor to compete with the performance of a Tesla Model 3.
BMW Electric Vehicle business strategy
BMW testers are conducting road trials of the electric car in Europe since early 2020. In June, Autocar UK released spy images showing an almost identical design to the current 3 Series. The prototype didn’t have an ‘electric test vehicle’ sticker, but the lack of an exhaust tip and softly revised front and rear fascias strongly hinted that it was an early test mule of the zero-emissions 3 Series.
BMW is yet to confirm plans for a 3 Series Electric, but the Chinese media are aware of the future Bimmer for years. What BMW has announced (above is a slide from an investor presentation from May 2020) is that 25 electrified models would launch by 2023, 13 of them pure-electrics. Following the iX3 this year, Munich has confirmed the BMW iX 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 Electric BMW X1, 3 Series and 5 Series supposedly are the electric cars to follow as the next step in the firm’s ‘Power of Choice’ strategy.
BMW 3 Series Electric to see Chinese production
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 Chinese news reports.
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.
BMW & Mini going all-out to build a full line of electric cars
BMW has started offering plug-in hybrid solutions for smaller vehicles including the BMW X1, X2, X3 (launched late last year) as the first serious step to electrify its complete portfolio. BMW then announced the iX3 (the pure electric version of the BMW X3) that is built in China and exported to Europe. This year, it plans to launch the BMW iX SUV and the BMW i4 sedan, and then in 2022, the BMW 7 Series electric (expected as the BMW i7) and the BMW 3 Series electric.
In 2022, a pure-electric BMW X1 also 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, including a standalone model, are expected to come out starting 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 Sino-German business deal.