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i4-based Gran Coupe to be first electrified BMW M
BMW M boss Markus Flasch reveals i4 as donor car for first electrified M
24 Sep 2020
THE first electrified BMW M car will not be the long-suspected M5, nor will it be a mild-hybrid M3 or M4, but rather an “M Performance” version of the upcoming i4 Gran Coupe.
Speaking to Australian media at the digital launch of the new M3 sedan and M4 coupe, BMW M CEO Markus Flasch revealed that the performance division’s first electrified vehicle would be released next year.
“Next year we will launch the first battery-electric M car in the performance segment based on an i4,” he said.
“Then we’re working on hybrid electrified performance and high-performance cars, but it’s a bit too early to discuss which models these are going to be.
“On the high-performance battery-electric technology, there is still some time that we need until the technology is ready and can take it on with an existing high-performance car like an M3 and M4.”
What all this means for the consumer is that the M Performance i4 will be of the same ilk as the M340i and M550i in not being a fully-fledged M car – performance vs high performance.
Given the i4 will be a similar size to the established 3 and a 4 Series, albeit in a Gran Coupe body style, Mr Flasch was quick to point out that the M Performance version would not be a rival for the recently revealed M3 and M4.
“It will not be a competitor to the M3 and M4, the technology we’re looking at on the high-performance side will take some more years to come,” he said.
“Weight will play a significant role in that and then of course driving dynamically; chassis controlling, powertrain controlling; there are opportunities within electrified powertrains, very much in the control systems and this is something that needs further development.
“If you imagine today we have an engine and a friction-based brake, and if you think about that you can use an electric engine for both directions and what you can do with multiple engines, then you probably know where we’re going to.”
This revelation is not only a milestone for BMW M but simultaneously adds some more background to the news that there were no current plans to offer an M4 Gran Coupe alongside the Coupe, Convertible, M3 sedan and M3 Touring, all of which are due here next year.
While not a dedicated high-performance M, the i4-based car will still plug the gap in BMW’s Gran Coupe range, slotting neatly between the M235i and M850i in both size and performance.
Initial bets were on the next-generation M5 being named as the brand’s first EV performance model given it has long been the flagbearer for BMW M’s technological and performance prowess.
Nevertheless, the super-sedan is still tipped to be M’s first ever high-performance battery-electric (BEV) model with more fuel added to the fire following the recent confirmation of a BEV 5 Series while a monster V8-hybrid version is also expected to be offered.
With the new ‘G60’ M5 due to debut in 2024, the big four-door’s lifecycle timeline roughly aligns with Mr Flasch’s comments on the high-performance technology taking “some more years to come”.
As for the i4, no concrete details or specifications have reached the light of day yet, with the biggest indication of what we can expect coming in the form of the Concept i4 revealed back in March.
BMW says the Concept i4 shared all of the headline figures of the production version, with power rated at “up to” 395kW and a 0-100km/h time of around four seconds.
Perhaps most fittingly, the Concept i4 shares the controversial vertical twin kidney grille as the regular 4 Series, including the new M4 and M3.
BMW Australia has sold 15,005 vehicles across its expansive model range so far this year ending August, exactly 1000 units – or 6.4 per cent – down on the 16,005 it managed over the same period last year.
M sales however are actually up 6.1 per cent year-on-year with the Australian market currently being second-biggest BMW M market in the world per capita.
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