Back in 2010, when the development of i8 and i3 was still in its early stages, BMW had trademarked car names right from i1 to i9, in an attempt to prevent anyone from stealing them. Now that BMW has an electric hatchback and a sportscar in its line-up, the German manufacturer is now developing a new model to slot in between the two. The car will most likely be called i5 and going by BMW’s new naming convention, which assigns odd number in the name to four-door cars, this product will be a four-door sedan.
Unlike the i3 and i8, which are quite unconventional and offbeat, the i5 is expected to be more of a family vehicle and will appeal to a wider range of audience. It will be more conservatively styled than the other two and have more space inside too. A bigger car means more space for a larger lithium-ion battery pack which will be positioned in the center of the car. The car will extensively use carbon-fibre-reinforced-polymer (CFRP) and aluminum in the body, which should keep the weight to a minimum.
The i5 will be powered by BMW's permanent-magnet AC synchronous electric motor which should churn out around 170bhp. The power will be sent to the rear wheels through a single speed transmission. Reports suggest that the car will also get a 1.5-litre three-pot range extender motor like the i8, though BMW might offer this only in the top-end models, to keep the prices low.
The BMW i5 will be pitted against the other eco-friendly electric car in the market, Tesla Model S. The i5 is expected to be priced competitively against the Model S around USD 70,000 (Rs 41.72 lakh) range. While the Model S currently enjoys the monopoly in the market, BMW is a big manufacturer and with its huge financial pool, has the upper hand. At the 2014 Detroit Motor Show, BMW had revealed that they were developing a new product to be positioned between i3 and i8 which will be launched in 2016, as a 2017 model.
The BMW i8 sportscar was unveiled in India at the 2014 Delhi Auto Expo and is expected to be launched here by the end of this year. BMW might launch the i5 in India in case it decides to offer the car with the range extender, but as a pure electric car, the i5 will have very limited scope here. Toyota is currently the only manufacturer which offers eco-friendly hybrid cars in the Indian market, the Prius and Camry Hybrid.