UPDATE, 22 January 2021: BMW M has confirmed its first all-electric model will be unveiled this year.
In BMW Group's annual sales report, the German luxury car maker announced its first "electrically powered performance automobile" would be presented in 2021, signifying the company's new push to develop fast vehicles with fully-electric powertrains.
While details were not revealed, it's likely the car will be the 2022 BMW i4 M50 xDrive, which is believed to be the first all-electric model to be tuned by BMW's M division.
19 October 2020: The 2022 BMW i4 M has been spied in heavy camouflage, giving us a first glimpse at the performance variant of the all-electric model.
BMW's M version of the i4 distinguishes itself from the standard model in a few key ways: M mirrors, body kit, a wider rear wheel track, and the signature blue brake callipers of M cars.
As revealed by CarAdvice in September 2020, BMW M CEO Markus Flasch confirmed the division's first fully-electric vehicle was currently in development.
"Next year we will launch the first battery-electric M car in the performance segment, based on the i4, as something to confirm," Mr Flasch said at the time.
"On the high performance battery electric technology, there is still some time that we need until technology is ready and can take it on with an existing high performance car, like an M3 or M4," he said. "This will take some more time, but we’re working on that."
While details of the i4 M are not yet known, the i4 is expected to be offered with a 390kW electric motor, powered by an 80kWh battery pack providing approximately 600km of range.
The i4 has been quoted as completing the 0-100km/h sprint in around four seconds – considering the M4 hits 100km/h in 4.2 seconds and the M4 Competition in 3.9 seconds, it's difficult to understand where the i4 M will fit into the line-up without stepping on the toes of the M4.
But, while the brand will have us believe the i4 M is akin to an M240i, BMW M does not typically widen the rear track of its M 'light' models. Only proper M cars – like the M2 – get such treatment.
While it's difficult to know exactly what the German car company is planning with this i4 'Gran Coupe', the performance potential of electric powertrains, coupled with the abilities of BMW M mean it will almost certainly be something special.
In July 2020, BMW announced it would be releasing 23 electrified models (meaning both fully-electric and hybrid-electric) within the next three years.