With the Concept i4, BMW has presented the near-series version of its electric Gran Coupé, which is scheduled for market launch in 2021. The German carmaker claims that the Concept i4 “takes electric drive to the core of the BMW brand and heralds a new era”.
This sentiment is remarkable for two reasons: firstly, the Group admits that in seven years it has not managed to treat the i3 as a core product. Secondly, according to this formulation, the upcoming iX3, whose production will start in 2020, is also unlikely to be at the core of the brand.
Back to the Concept i4: The study carries numerous design elements of Concept 4 with combustion engines that BMW showed at the IAA 2019. Most striking, of course, is the mighty “radiator grille”, where the two “kidneys” typical of the brand even extend into the front bonnet. “The design is dynamic, clean and elegant. In short: a perfect BMW that happens to be zero emission.,” says Adrian van Hooydonk, Head of BMW Group Design. In the electric car, however, the “radiator” openings are closed for aerodynamic reasons, and a number of sensors are hidden behind the surface.
Anyone who thought that the ever-larger radiator grilles on BMW’s SUV models would remain in the world of combustion was obviously mistaken: “The BMW Concept i4 already displays a number of design elements in its exterior and interior, which will be seen in the BMW i4 as well as in other electrically powered production vehicles,” the carmaker writes in the press release.
In designing the rear end, the team around van Hooydonk and Domagoj Dukec, Head of BMW Design, tried to combine brand-typical elements such as the L-shaped rear lights with aerodynamic functions. Numerous tear-off edges at the rear are intended to improve the air flow around the car. Nice detail: Where otherwise the tailpipes would end, elements held in the “BMW i Blue” indicate the new drive of the i4.
According to BMW, there is already a more concrete view of the series in the interior: The curved display is already supposed to correspond to the series status from the i4 and also iNext. The coherent and driver-oriented display should optimize the presentation of information and facilitate intuitive touch operation of the display.
The technical specifications of the Concept i4 are largely known. A range of up to 600 kilometres (WLTP), up to 390 kW, from zero to one hundred in about four seconds, a top speed of over 200 kilometres per hour – are all key data BMW has already made public. The 550-kilogram battery has an energy content of “around 80 kWh” and is said to be characterised by its “extremely flat design”.
Series production of the new BMW i4 will start in 2021 at the BMW Group’s main plant in Munich. This means that in the future, cars with combustion engines, plug-in hybrids and purely battery-powered vehicles will be produced on the same line in Munich. As the Munich-based company states, 90 per cent of the existing production facilities can continue to be used, while the remaining ten per cent (especially around the rear end) will have to be newly built. Another new feature is, of course, the separate plant for assembling the company’s battery packs. According to the company, they are investing a total of 200 million euros in the Munich plant.
With reporting by Sebastian Schaal, Germany
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