Grille - 2016 BMW i3 4-door HBEnlarge Photo
The next electric BMW has been the subject of intense interest and discussion for many months.
Now, we think we've pieced together a rough idea of the car, its timing, its configuration, and its technology.
The BMW i5 electric crossover SUV (with optional range extender) will likely be unveiled at an auto show sometime next year, and go into production in 2018 or 2019 as a 2019 or 2020 model.
The BMW i5, as previously reported, is expected to be an all-electric five-door crossover SUV with seats for five and a range estimated at around 240 miles.
It will be built using the same aluminum frame and carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) body shell as the i3 and i8.
To underscore its SUV credentials, especially in those markets where cold weather means snow, all-wheel drive will be offered as an option.
2014 BMW i3 4-door HB Tail LightEnlarge Photo
Battery size is expected to be slightly less than 80 kilowatt-hours, with about 70 kwh of that usable for travel, and motor output is likely to exceed 300 horsepower.
One reason for the long time-frame is that BMW is said to be waiting for Samsung's 125-Amp-hour lithium-ion cells, whose physical size will make a "low-height" pack possible.
Those cells are scheduled to come to market in two or three years, by 2019 at the latest.
One big question surrounds the i5's charging capabilities; it will clearly offer DC quick-charging using the Combined Charging Standard (CCS) protocol, but at what rate?
Recent rumors suggest that the BMW i5 could charge at rates as high as 150 kilowatts, triple the maximum output of today's CCS implementations, rated at 50 kw.
Whether CCS charging stations will be available when the i5 launches that can support a 150-kw rate—the same rate Tesla expects its Supercharger network to deliver—remains unknown.
2017 BMW i3Enlarge Photo
A likely venue for the debut of at least a concept version of the new BMW i5 would be the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, where German makers often show off new and future models, to be held in September next year.
If BMW follows the same schedule it used for the i3, there will be about two years between the unveiling of the concept car and the start of production.
That takes us to a Job One date in the summer of 2019, meaning the BMW i5 would likely be a 2020 model.
It will have been a long time coming; the small BMW i3 electric hatchback launched in autumn 2013 in Europe, and then in the U.S. in spring 2014.
A few months later, the BMW i8 gull-wing plug-in hybrid sport coupe followed.
That means an i5 that goes into production in 2019 will come fully six years after BMW's last new dedicated plug-in vehicle.