BMW announced it has started working on its first completely electric car within the BMW M performance division. CarAdvice.com is reporting on the announcement made before the reveal of the brand’s new M3 sedan and M4 coupe.
First shown as a concept car in March 2020, the first M division electric car will be a version of the BMW i4 in the brand’s perpetually expanding EV lineup.
The first electric M car
The CEO of BMW’s M division, Markus Flasch, spoke to Australian media before the unveiling of the new M3 and M4 models. He started by saying that the M3 and M4 are safe for now.
They showed off the new EV as a concept car back in March. Now, BMW is revealing that the new M EV will be a version of the i4.
While Flasch didn’t offer a lot of specifics, he did drop an important hint. He referred to specific high-performance and performance segments. That tells us the new EV might be like the other M Performance badgers like the M340i and M550i and full performance cars in the M line like the M3 and M5.
Flasch confirmed that the first battery-electric M model in BMW’s performance segment, based on the i4, will debut in 2021. Following that, he explained that BMW means to begin working on hybrid electrified performance and high-performance models. Flasch noted at this point it’s too early to reveal which models will get hybrid versions.
What we’re expecting in the new EV
There are initial specifications for the i4 concept that hint it will have the performance to rival that of BMW’s M performance line. How those specifications develop into a range of electric vehicles hasn’t yet been explained.
Those preliminary stats showed the concept car has a 522-hp output. It would be easy to think that sort of performance would put both the M3 and the M4 on notice. It’s said it will have a top speed of 120 mph with a range of 373 miles.
While the manual M3 and M4 can get up to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds, competition models can reach it in 3.9 seconds.
What sort of battery would you need to achieve these goals? According to Flasch, the current battery technology isn’t enough to reach those expectations just yet. When talking about high-performance electric battery capabilities, Flasch said that it will be some time before they achieve that. It will take time before the forthcoming electric i4 can take on cars like the M3 or M4.
A threat to the BMW M3 and M4?
Flasch went on to say that acceleration was just one component in crafting a possible high-performance EV at BMW. He explained there was more than longitudinal performance and power output. The question they pose is when can they combine the power of their internal systems, steering, and lateral dynamics, and use them to produce an electric M package?
Flasch was asked how the i4 would match up against the recently launched high-performance M3 and M4 models. He maintains that there will be no competition between the two model lines. The first M-badged EV will be positioned as a performance model but not a high-performance model. The i4 will be just below the M3 and M4 on the performance ranking.
Does the trend indicate BMW will soon be moving away from combustion engines? Not with the release of M3 and M4. Their traditional M cars aren’t going away anytime soon. They may even get more power going forward. It will be exciting to see what the future holds at BMW.