BMW Is Playing It Safe With i Family Growth


BMW recently announced it has plans under consideration for the next member of the i range family, with a larger electric vehicle that would be slotted above the compact i3. BMW is reportedly already hard at work building “something a little bigger, maybe a little more range, relative to the i3,” according to BMW’s head of electric vehicle operations and strategy, Jacob Harb, who spoke to Autoblog.

However, as any good business should do, BMW is waiting to see how well consumers respond to the i3 and its sports car cousin, the i8, before making further commitments to expanding its electric powertrain program. Already, BMW has pumped about 2 billion euros — about $2.7 billion — into the development of the i platforms, so it’s understandable that the company wants to ensure that there is enough demand to warrant additional investment.

So far, things are looking good for BMW’s i range, as the i3 has already logged 11,000 orders globally, surpassing even BMW’s own expectations. It’s been on sale in Europe since November and is scheduled to make its U.S. debut in the next few months.

Harald Krueger, BMW’s production chief officer, acknowledged to Automotive News that a third member of the i family will not join the two until the company has a better reading for the temperature of demand.

BMW i8 doors

When asked about what BMW’s plans for the i range in China are, Krueger said to the publication that the infrastructure there is still developing, and that Chinese production for the i3 EV and the hybrid i8 is not under consideration. China has, however, provided a critical market for BMW’s conventional range of vehicles, and it builds the 3- and 5-series sedans in Shenyang.

Production statistics for the i3 — which is made in Leipzig, Germany — have not been disclosed, and Krueger also declined to offer insights on that matter when speaking to Automotive News.

Currently, the waiting list for the cars is about six months; BMW has also trademarked the term i9, perhaps indicative of the company’s aspirations with its electric powertrains, provided the public responds favorably.