According to a report in Car, BMW is preparing a new uniquely styled plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). Mooted names for this vehicle include i5 and i7, but branding has yet to be settled on.
The new i5/i7 is said to be based on the next-generation 5 Series (below), which our spy photographers have spotted undergoing testing in both plug-in hybrid, sedan and wagon forms. This is unlike the i3 and i8, which unique brand architecture.
Specifically the new electrified sedan will be developed from the long-wheelbase 5 Series that's being prepared for the Chinese market, where luxury car buyers prefer more commodious rear cabins and a chauffeur to do the driving grunt work.
In using the extended wheelbase model as its base, BMW is looking to accommodate batteries, people and luggage all with similar levels of comfort.
The British magazine believes that the combined system output of the BMW PHEV will be around 400kW. There will be two electric motors: a larger unit up front developing around 150kW and a smaller motor at rear generating about 70kW. Under the bonnet there will also be four-cylinder petrol engine, likely turbocharged, churning out up to 180kW as required.
Electric-only driving range is expected to be around 130km, and there will be no mechanical linkage between the front and rear drivetrains. Depending on the situation, the new sedan can switch between being an electric front- or rear-wheel drive vehicle, or a hybrid all-wheel drive sedan, with the petrol engine usually restricted to work above above 60km/h.
When the car is launched in 2018, it will be priced against the all-electric Tesla Model S. Current sales projections are currently pegged in five figure territory.