BMW Drops Hints on i3 Successor: Neue Klasse EV

In the span of nine years, the Leipzig factory in Germany manufactured over 250,000 hatchbacks. However, BMW ceased production of the i3 in June 2022, leaving no direct successor. Instead, the recently introduced iX2 and the higher-priced iX1 are larger crossovers, not intended as replacements for the i3. Interestingly, the i3 name has been repurposed for an electric version of the long-wheelbase 3 Series Sedan, exclusively produced in China for the local market.

During his interview with Automobilwoche, Frank Weber, the head of development, alluded to actively exploring introducing a new model. This addresses the gap left after discontinuing the i3 hatch in 2022. Moreover, he emphasised the versatile Neue Klasse platform. It aims to span diverse market segments, including an entry-level EV. Additionally, Weber underscored the imperative need to introduce an affordable and compact BMW to the market.

The Chief Technology Officer presented an intriguing idea: the future i3 might not preserve the eccentric hatchback’s distinctive appearance. Acknowledging the uniqueness that distinguished the compact EV, the CTO implied that BMW wouldn’t replicate the same design for a future i3 successor. It’s logical to presume that the replacement might bear the names i1 or i2. This is because it signifies its position in the lineup following the confirmed i3 Sedan based on the Neue Klasse platform.

Frank Weber highlighted that the striking design of the original i3 was intentional. It aims to distinguish it from the sea of gasoline and diesel cars. The car complemented the traditional ICE lineup and proved electromobility’s feasibility. However, in 2023, the necessity for an EV pioneer has diminished as the zero-emission vehicle lineup now boasts many options.

The exact timing of BMW’s introduction of a true entry-level EV to compete with the iX1, priced at €47,900 in Germany, remains uncertain. We know the strategy includes launching six Neue Klasse-based vehicles between 2025 and 2028. This begins with an i3 Sedan, followed by the next-generation iX3. Reports suggest a new i3 Touring and an all-electric iX4 will replace the current X4. Whether the i1/i2 will be part of this initial wave of NE-based vehicles is yet to be confirmed.

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