Is the Cancellation of the BMW i5 a Good or Bad Thing For The Mass Adoption of Electric Cars?

Since the inception of the BMW i-brand back in 2012, we’ve only seen two production models wear the special blue BMW badge: the BMW i3 and the BMW i8. The i3, with its choice of all-electric or range-extended electric drivetrain, has proven popular around the world, selling reasonably large numbers since its introduction, while the BMW i8 — a flagship halo model for the brand — has become a firm addition to many a collector’s garages.

BMW’s plan behind the i-brand was to give it a little more freedom in experimentation with alternative drivetrains and construction methods without tainting its main brand’s reputation. Part of that included plans to expand the BMW i-brand lineup to include future models so that a range of different drivetrains and platforms could be honed before introduction to the mainstream BMW family.

But this week we heard a rumor that BMW is killing the i5 — a mid-sized battery electric crossover — in favor of focusing its efforts on electrification of its main brand (which may focus on plug-in hybrid or electric models) and on building a production high-end halo car based on its Vision Next concept.

So what does that mean for BMW? And what does it mean for its plug-in vehicle program looking forward?


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  • Albemarle

    I think that BMW is taking their eye off the prize. Every manufacturer needs to continuously refresh and replace all their models. Look at how Nissan, still an important EV supplier has held onto the Leaf just a little too long. Tempting to run with a successful design, particularly if you’ve made enormous investments getting it to market. The answer, of course, is to be your own competitor. If you introduce replacements, using your superior capabilities as market leader, it makes it very difficult for others to catch up. Unfortunately, the I3 and Leaf are not exactly moving targets anymore. The battery bumps were nice, and so very 2015. Nissan has done a “oh shit oh dear” but too late to maintain a leadership position. BMW, by officially dropping the ball, has indicated they don’t care about the EV market, that is, until they do, and it will be all hands on deck to get back into it. BMW is big enough to do both the i5 and their other projects simultaneously. If they were American I would suggest that they got Wall Street Quarterly Earnings myopia, but who knows.

    Please keep the web site comments open too. I just can’t believe the stupid, juvenile, knee jerk, vituperative comments on Youtube. I commiserate with you having to read them.

  • Jeff Laurence

    I hope your right. Electrification of standard models isn’t so difficult and why wouldn’t a successful car maker take advantage of successful car models that are already popular. My wife has been waiting for a convertible electric car for six or seven years. (the smart doesn’t qualify). With advancements in battery size and range, it’s never been easier to take a successful car design and make it electric.