BMW i5 Will Now Be An SUV, Timetable Set For 2021 Launch
No confirmation yet from BMW, so read with a pinch of saltby Kirby, on
Initially thought of to come in sedan form, the BMW i5 is now reportedly taking the shape of an SUV instead as the German automaker seeks to leverage the model with the growing popularity of the segment. According to Autocar, that’s the direction that BMW is now going to after multiple reports in the past connected the i5 as a sedan model that Bimmer was developing to take on the Tesla Model S.
Apparently, it’s now setting its sights on the Model X instead and there are already some supposed discussions of launching the model sometime in the early part of the next decade, possibly as early as 2021. In the meantime, BMW’s i division is setting its sights on developing the i8 Roadster with an eye towards launching it in 2018. Details are still scarce about what the i8 Roadster will look like or what it will carry, but reports have pointed to the concept version that was revealed in 2012 as a close representation of the production model and the possibility that the roadster will share the same powertrain found inside the coupe version.
If it feels like BMW is keeping too much information surrounding the future state of its i division close to its chest, that’s because that’s exactly what the company is doing. From CEO Harald Kruger to the company’s head of sales and marketing Ian Robertson, nobody from within Bimmer’s management has expounded on these future plans. For his part, Robertson did say that opening a new sub-brand is a long-term process and that the company is still “at the very early stages of i,” hence the reason why some of the company’s plans, including the makeup of the i5, are still in a state of flux. “Just as with M [Division], there are opportunities that take time to build up, from i cars to i Performance products to i kit, such as an electric scooter.
So while this new report seems to point to the BMW i5 now taking the shape of an SUV, it’s important to know that those plans have yet to be set in stone until BMW actually confirms it, which is unlikely to happen anytime soon.
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It’s an interesting development, to say the least
This is one of those times when it’s easy to convey the difficulties of working in this environment, especially when it comes to reports pertaining to cars that have yet to move past the planning phase. The reality is that unless the automaker officially confirms what a car is going to look like, the speculation around it will run rampant. Is it a sedan? Is it an SUV? Does it have this or that powertrain?
In some ways, I’m actually glad that there are different reports coming out now about what the BMW i5 is going to look like. I like the idea of the car being a sedan because of the likelihood that it would be competing against the Tesla Model S. That would make for a very interesting competition between the two models. But I’ll also admit that upon hearing this news that the i5 may actually be an SUV instead, I became even more intrigued because an i5 SUV opens itself up to a bigger sphere of competition, not just from the Model X, but from the other EV SUVs that are currently being developed now.
It certainly helps that the SUV market is arguably the biggest and most lucrative segment in the industry these days. That opens the i5 up to potential of seeing bigger sales volumes and greater profit margins, at least compared to an EV hatchback or EV sedan. It’s a big development – that’s for sure – and I’m very interested to see how BMW proceeds from here with the development of the i5 if it does end up being an EV SUV.
Read our full review on the BMW i5 here.