2014 BMW i3 (German-market version), Amsterdam, Oct 2013Enlarge Photo
BMW surprised its traditionalist owners when releasing the X5 SUV back in 1999, but there's no risk of the same happening in its new electric brand.
The automaker has confirmed that the cleaner, greener side of the its range, BMW i, won't get an SUV option, even though a range of other vehicles is planned.
SUVs "don't fit the brand" according to i3 city car's project manager, Roland Kowalski (via Car Advice). Kowalski says BMW hasn't ruled out an i-car in every sector--denoted by the traditional numeric naming scheme--but the company isn't thinking about an SUV.
Instead, says Kowalski, "For BMW i we are talking about an urban concept for megacities".
He adds that "nobody, more than 90 per cent, needs four-wheel drive for the city", and that the popularity of SUVs is all about space or roominess--something the i3 already offers passengers, despite its small exterior dimensions.
Between the i3 city car and the i8 plug-in hybrid sports car, BMW has plenty of room for maneuver with its future portfolio of i-badged models. BMW’s vice-president of functional integration and driving dynamics, Jos van As, says the i3's naming was deliberate, allowing for both smaller and larger models should BMW see demand for them.
The i8, on the other hand, was considered essential to maintain BMW's sporting image, even as it moves towards low and zero-emissions transportation.
“The i8 is the modern interpretation of a sports car and we are a company based around driving pleasure," said van As, adding that BMW also has "a lot of customers who like to drive on country roads and race tracks, and the i8 is a very good answer.”
An i5 sedan or crossover-styled model sitting above the i3 is rumored to be next in the range, but in the meantime BMW's efforts will be focused on i3 and i8.
Both cars will go on sale in the U.S. in 2014--but on BMW's latest comments, you shouldn't hold your breath for an i-SUV...