BMW’s all-electric i3 and range-extended i3 REX hatchback haven’t yet even gone on sale in the UK, but they’re causing quite a stir among those who want a performance-oriented EV from a premium brand. With seating for just four and limited luggage space however, the BMW i3 is certainly aimed more toward young, carefree DINKs (Dual Income, No Kids) than it is towards those with families.
But, says Autocar, BMW’s next electric car after the i3 city car and i8 plug-in hybrid sportscar is likely to be a family-friendly hatchback about the same size as the MINI Countryman. What’s more, it’ll likely be based on the i3, and wear the i5 badge.
Before we go any further, it’s worth noting to be clear that BMW itself is keeping its exact plans for future i-brand EVs a closely guarded secret, but Autocar claims to know that the i5, which we know is already in internal development at BMW, will be based on the i3. What we’re reporting hasn’t been confirmed, and shouldn’t be treated as gospel. We’d prefer to call it a rumor.
Autocar says BMW engineers working on the i5 have taken the design of the i3, but lengthened it by adding an additional 100 mm of legroom and an additional 150 mm of rear overhang. In other words, it claims BMW have stretched the i3 by 250 mm — a little under ten inches — to produce an i5 prototype which has more load carrying capabilities and is better suited to family life.
Reporting the rumor this morning, Autocar’s Hilton Holloway says that because of the way the i3 is constructed, extending its design to create the i5 is far easier than it would be for a traditional steel monocoque car. That’s because the i3 is built around a tubular chassis to which important mechanical components are fitted, with a carbon-fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) passenger cell fitted on top. Body panels too, are made of CFRP, making it far easier, cheaper, and quicker to ready the i5 for production than it would be if the car was made with steel pressings.
But while this rumor is an intriguing one — and certainly seems more than plausible — we’d like to see some more concrete confirmation of the i5’s structure and design before getting too excited. For now however, it does make sense to expect that the i5, following BMW’s standard numerical model numbering system, will be larger and more family-friendly than the four-seat i3 city car.
With the i5 not expected before 2015, we’re curious as to what you’d like BMW to offer in its next plug-in car after the i8. Would you like more range, more seats, more luggage carrying ability, or perhaps a bigger gasoline tank for extended range trips?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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