BMW’s i3 was one of the earliest ‘mainstream’ electric vehicles, but it may be retired after its first generation according to a new report.
Speaking with the UK’s Auto Express, BMW member of the board of management, Pieter Nota, said: “It is difficult to say if the i3 will have a straight successor as it [electrification] goes more into the mainstream like the upcoming iX3”.
“The i3 had a pioneering role - it was at the very beginning of BMW’s electrification plans but what we are seeing now is that electrification is moving more into the mainstream.”
First launched in 2013, the i3 was BMW’s first foray into the EV market and the beginning of the marque’s electrification strategy.
Since then, however, the brand has shifted its focus away from developing bespoke electrified models like the i3 and i8, and incorporating the alternative powertrain technology to mainstream models, such as the i Performance hybrid range and upcoming vehicles like the iX3 and Mini Cooper SE.
Part of the reason for this is that the expensive carbon-fibre chassis that underpins the i3 and i8 isn’t as modular or cost-effective as the new CLAR platform that serves the basis of various models from the 3 Series to the 7 Series – which accommodates internal combustion, plug-in hybrid and pure-electric motivation.
Speaking on the company’s use of carbon-fibre in vehicle production, Nota said: “We will continue to use carbon fibre but not exactly in the way that we see it in the i3 today”, indicating the i3 and i8’s platform could be phased out.
BMW plans to introduce no less than 25 new electric or electrified vehicles by 2023, starting with the revealed Mini Cooper SE later this year, set to be joined by the iX3 in 2020.
The company has recently gone on record backing plug-in hybrid powertrains as a ‘bridging’ technology to pure EVs, and should be a viable option for the long term.
Conversely, BMW’s chief technical officer, Klaus Frolich, recently told media the marque believes internal combustion engines will survive at least another 20 or 30 years, and that the shift to electrification is ‘over-hyped’.
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