BMW has ruled out adding an SUV to its new line-up of low-emissions i-badge vehicles.
The German car maker is working on the next members of its new i sub brand that currently comprises the BMW i3 electric car officially launched this week in Holland and the i8 hybrid supercar due next year. The company has trademarked model names ranging from i1 to i9.
The i3’s project manager, Roland Kowalski, said at the launch that each designation could potentially be covered, though said SUVs didn’t fit the brand.
“It may be possible [to have every i number] but for now we have the i3 and the i8,” said Kowalski. “We’re thinking about a few options. But we have time [to bring it to market].
“We’re not thinking about SUV on i models. For BMW i we are talking about an urban concept for megacities.
“The thing with the SUVs is nobody, more than 90 per cent, needs four-wheel drive for the city. The SUV trend is only a thing about the space or the roominess.
“We think with i3 you also have a lot of space.”
Kowalski says the i3 offers the interior space of a 3 Series mid-sized sedan on the wheelbase of a 1 Series hatchback.
A UK car magazine recently reported one of the options being considered by BMW is an i5 model that would take the form of a sedan or crossover-style vehicle offering more cabin space than the i3.
BMW’s choice of starting with an i3 and i8 certainly gives the company options to go smaller than the four-metre-long i3 and fill a sizeable gap between the city car and supercar.
BMW’s vice-president of functional integration and driving dynamics, Jos van As, said the decision to start the i brand with an i3 and i8 was designed to allow freedom for more models.
"If you start with i1, what do you do if you want to make a smaller car? A 0.5?" said van As. "I think they did it to leave space for something if we want to do something different. And that's something we’re developing. With the separate i [brand] we take a very deliberate step in one direction if the world is moving towards less emissions, [problems with] petrol availability, etc."
Van As said it was important for a sports car to feature in the range.
“To make a city car that’s electric has been done by others, but we are also a brand that builds sporty cars,” said Van As. “So it was a good idea to say we have to give our customers and people in general in the future what could be a sports car of the future.
“The i8 is the modern interpretation of a sports car and we are a company based around driving pleasure. We also have a lot of customers who like to drive on country roads and race tracks, and the i8 is a very good answer."
The BMW i3 will go on sale in Australia in the third quarter of 2014.