Ever since BMW launched its i series in 2013, speculation has centered on which car will fill the gap between the i8 sportscar and i3 city car. The internal debate for BMW seemed to be between a family sedan that can compete with the Tesla S or a larger and roomier i3. But now a new frontrunner has emerged: an electric i5 SUV.
Now it seems that the SUV is leading the pack. In an interview with Auto Express, Ian Robertson, a BMW board member, discussed the evolution of the i models. “Legislation means we’ll inevitably have more zero emissions cars and we’re exploring more i models, although no firm decisions have been made yet.” Robertson noted the continued growth of the SUV market, which have been particularly strong in the Chinese market. This includes sales of Tesla’s SUV.
Auto Car cited its own sources to confirm that BMW is leaning toward an electric SUV or hybrid crossover vehicle. Both RM Design and Car Advice have released renderings of the potential SUV by taking design cues from the BMW i3, but giving it the proportions of a crossover.
Car Advice Renderings
Car Advice’s renderings show two versions of the SUV crossover. The first rendering of the car sits slightly lower to the ground and has a sleeker body. The magazine assumes that the car would use lightweight materials like carbon fiber and aluminum on the body.
The second rendering of the SUV is a slightly boxier version of a BMW that is more reminiscent of a mini-van.
RM Design Renderings
RM Design’s renderings of the potential BMW i5 or i6 emphasize a sloping roofline and incorporates the aero elements of i3 and i8. The rear of he vehicle takes some cues from the i8 hybrid sports car. As you can see, the aero-designed wheels of the design match the wheels on the i8.
RM assumes that the new FSAR architecture/platform will be included in the crossover. This platform has a flat floor which is right above a section filled with batteries. This platform may stretch or shrink according to BMW’s specifications.
The drivetrain would probably have either two and four electric motors and could even have a lithium-polymer battery pack. Robertson spoke about BMW’s investment in battery technology. “The tech is developing fast – we’ll see steps made with lithium-ion batteries and then lithium air will make progress. But next we’ll see solid state batteries without the wet sticky stuff in them – that’s where real progress will be made in terms of density and packaging,” he told Auto Express.
BMW is making revisions to the i3’s battery pack, taking the range from less than 100 miles to about 130 miles on the full EV model. Although an i5 or i6 is likely several years away, the technology suggests the expected range of the SUV would be about 200 miles. The company continues to invest in hybrid and fuel cell in addition to pure hybrid electric, so the eventual power components are unknown.