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What we absolutely know for certain about the i5 is that it is a potential future car to be made by BMW.

OK, we can say a few more things than only that, but will try to avoid blurring the distinction about what “will” be and what could be.
Market Position

The i5 was reported to be in planning stages as early as October 2013 when the ink was not even dry from the first i3 launch reports.

Rumors of its final configuration have come and gone, BMW has not spelled out too much and reports have conflicted thus the back-and-forth conjecture.

Assuming the production-pending i5 is announced as expected, it does appear to be the closest thing yet from BMW to a “Tesla fighter” by today’s armchair spec-sheet reckoning.

According to Automobile Magazine’s European Bureau Chief Georg Kacher, it could be approved for production by October, and may be for sale by 2019. Other reports have suggested launch dates of 2018-2020, even later.
Germany's Autobild.de says the long-wheelbase 5-Series could be the basis for the next i-Series.

Germany’s Autobild.de says the long-wheelbase 5-Series could be the basis for the next i-Series.

It is at least certain BMW does want another i-Series, as it’s trademarked all the potential name combos it could through i9 and is committed to its sustainable sub brand.

How it will be positioned is also up for speculation however. Automobile’s European Bureau Chief – who may have good contacts, one would surmise – said in late April the i5 will split the difference between the semi-exotic i8 plug-in hybrid and i3 electric city car with optional range extender.

Germany’s Autobild however suggested a couple weeks prior only 30,000 annual units and low-six-figure pricing – and the way BMW likes to pile on option pricing, we’re talking much more of an exclusivity factor.

Either way, it appears probable BMW hopes to broaden its appeal with powertrain options to satisfy consumer expectations for short-range and long-range travel distances.

If it goes for more volume than Autobild suggests, it may do so by cutting costs where possible, trickling down lessons learned to date.
Ego Factor

While you as a potential consumer are thinking about a possibly cool car, this endeavor is being driven by 1) a corporation that wishes to make money, and 2) Type-A personalities who want to make their mark.

Tesla has its Elon Musk, and last year Car & Driver noted former BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer who green-lighted the i-Series to leave behind a legacy of leading the German brand to the green future.

Following on Reithofer’s heels, Kacher notes BMW Chairman Harald Krüger and R&D chief Klaus Fröhlich who took a knife to various future cars underway and cut off a slew of BMW and Mini projects while leaving Reithofer’s i5 goal intact.
Design

Rumors have abounded for the car varying from avant garde B-pillarless design to crossover to traditional sedan.

The latest ostensibly plausible view is that the i5 will not look like a bloated i3 an artist’s rendering suggested last year, but may be based on the Chinese long-wheelbase 5-Series sedan.

According to Kacher, Americans and Chinese prefer sedans to spacepods, and to save costs – assuming BMW needs it to stay competitive for higher volume – could be achieved by sticking to a less-exotic three-box design.
It's unlikely the i5 will be a derivative of the i3 but previous reports suggested it could be.

It’s unlikely the i5 will be a derivative of the i3 but previous reports suggested it could be.

If so, it may not receive extensive carbon fiber reinforced plastic in its construction. This is not clear, but a Chinese 5-Series certainly does not.

If it does get CFRP, economies of scale hoped by relatively larger sales volume could help offset this, and at very least it could get other materials and engineering techniques developed for the i3 and i8 and befitting the next “i” model.

Or, its high price as Autobild suggests will take care of the production cost problem of the upscale car BMW settles on.
Powertrain
Read the complete story on the BMW i5 at HybridCars.com
 
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