BMW has established a firm footing in the EV market with the recent introduction of the i8 and i3, but it could be on the verge of creating a more-conventional, higher-volume i-series EV based on the next-generation BMW 5 Series sedan. CAR Magazine is reporting that BMW is developing the new sedan – possibly called the i5 or the i7 – to go head-to-head with the Tesla Model S, and it could be previewed as a concept this fall at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

A production version of this plug-in car is expected to come in 2018, and it will likely use a more powerful version of the EV drive system currently in the i8. This would start with a larger-displacement gasoline engine acting as a generator, while the electric drive system could see a motor at each axle versus the i8’s front-axle-only setup. The article states that this car could very easily have a total system output of 544 horsepower along with an all-electric driving range of 80 miles.

While that range is far less than what the Model S currently offers, the range-extending engine would give the BMW the ability to drive longer distances and use gas for quick fill-ups rather than having to hunt for an EV charging station. As far as the styling is concerned, that’s still unknown, but the article does show a very interesting, i-inspired rendering.

Click past the jump to read more about BMW’s future plug-in hybrid model.

Why it matters

Tesla has been a thorn in the side of many automakers, so a high-volume, range-extended EV from BMW could be the answer. Looking at the bigger picture, the addition of such a vehicle would help BMW offer a greener lineup and take strides toward meeting the strict new emissions and fuel-economy standards that will be going into effect over the next decade.

BMW i5

2015 BMW i5 sedan Exterior Spyshots
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Talk of this new plug-in BMW sedan fits the mysterious prototype that was spotted testing back in early 2012. That mule obviously had some EV components at the front axles, and it also had a tailpipe poking out the rear, backing up the rumor of an internal-combustion engine as a range extender. An interesting part of that spy shot report was that the article had suggested that BMW was working on an electrified MPV to slot above the i3. If that still is the case, it’s quite possible that BMW could add two such models (perhaps an i5 hatchback and an i7 sedan) that would likely share the same platform.

Source: CAR

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