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Frankfurt show: BMW’s future ‘Vision’ uncovered

Spark up: The BMW i Vision Dynamics concept will hit Australian shores in production guise early next decade.

Third model in BMW ‘i’ line-up revealed in concept form with 600km EV range

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BMW logo13 Sep 2017

By TIM NICHOLSON

BMW has previewed the next chapter in its electrified vehicle rollout with the ‘i Vision Dynamics’ concept that will soon take the form of a fully electric production model positioned between the i3 and i8.

The showroom-ready version of the concept, which is widely rumoured to adopt the ‘i5’ moniker, is scheduled to hit Australian dealerships early in the next decade.

While BMW has not revealed too many details about the four-door Gran Coupe concept’s powertrain, the German car-maker has confirmed it will have a 600km range, a top speed of more than 200km/h and a 0-100km/h sprint time of 4.0 seconds, rivalling many sportscars.

BMW Group Australia chief executive Marc Werner told GoAuto in Frankfurt this week that the production version of the sleek concept would “certainly” be offered Down Under and that its long range would ensure it appeals to Australian consumers.

“This is a very exciting vehicle and it is not only the future because it is very, very close to being introduced,” Mr Werner said on the BMW stand in Frankfurt.

“BMW is talking about the beginning of the next decade to launch that car. It is not only a very inspiring design, but another spearhead as far as electric mobility is concerned – and the 500-600km range, that is definitely a step in the right direction from a customer perspective.

“We can’t wait to bring it to Australia.”

While Mr Werner said electric mobility was not yet “a volume game”, he added that the production version of the concept would hold broader appeal than the two current i models – the i3 compact hatch and the i8 sportscar.

“What is more important (than volume) is to have an offer for each and every customer. The i3 is certainly an urban commuter, it serves that purpose the i8 is probably a niche vehicle,” he said.

“Now thinking about this ‘Vision’ that we saw this morning, it will appeal to a broader audience and thereby deliver potentially also more volume. But at end of the day it is not really a volume game because it is a new technology, and as we learned it will take time until the customer fully embraces the technology.”

The latest concept is a styling evolution of last year’s Vision Next 100 concept and introduces some new design elements, notably a new take on BMW’s trademark kidney grille.

Given it is an EV, the grille no longer needs to function as an air intake for the engine compartment and BMW says the new one-piece unit acts as “declarations of technological knowhow”, while the sensors housed underneath hint at the higher autonomous-driving capability to be built into the vehicle.

The concept has short overhangs, a flowing roofline and a long wheelbase, and the LED light treatment at the front reflects the brand’s familiar quad-headlight design but with a new signature made up of two freestanding light elements.

From the side view, the i Vision Dynamics concept has an almost symmetrical front and rear window design that BMW says ensures all passengers have a good view out, which will become more important in the future because of autonomous driving.

The familiar L-shaped tail-lights feature at the back and a full-length glass surface runs from the front to the back of the vehicle.

In terms of the likely production name, BMW head of product management (BMW i, e-mobility) Dirk Arnold was dismissive of the speculated i5 moniker when pressed on whether he thought the name was a good fit.

“It’s between three and eight, but it doesn’t have to have an i plus a number name,” he told Australian journalists at the show.

The production-ready car’s most obvious rival is the Tesla Model S, but it could also compete with the likes of the forthcoming Porsche Mission E.

As GoAuto has reported, BMW announced last week it will offer 25 electrified vehicles in its line-up by 2025, with 12 of those being full-electric vehicles.

Other electrified vehicles on the BMW Group stand at Frankfurt included the updated i3 and the new sporty i3s variant, the Mini E and the plug-in hybrid X7 SUV concept.

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