The BMW i3 electric car will get a successor, but without the "polarizing design" of the original, the automaker's development boss said in a recent interview with Automotive News.
"A lot of people liked it, but in the eyes of others the i3 was not a real BMW. A bit of an outsider in the classroom if you will," Frank Weber said of the original i3, a small hatchback that was BMW's first mass-market EV. "We will not repeat this form."
2020 BMW i3
Launched in 2013 in both all-electric and range-extended i3 REx forms, the i3 indeed had unorthodox styling, as well as unorthodox engineering, including a structure made in part from carbon fiber-reinforced plastic. It was dropped from the U.S. in 2021, but production for other markets continued into 2022. More than 250,000 were made during the i3's nine-year production run.
The i3's departure left BMW without a small, entry-level EV, something Weber hinted could be addressed in the rollout of BMW's Neue Klasse family of EVs. The first of these models are scheduled to start production in 2025 at plants in Hungary and Germany, with production in Mexico to follow. The latter will help U.S.-market vehicles qualify for the revised federal EV tax credit.
BMW Vision Neue Klasse concept
"BMW definitely needs to bring to market an affordable compact car, " Weber said. "That is why we are thinking very carefully about how an entry offering can be part of the Neue Klasse family."
The Neue Klasse EVs will start with the minimalist look previewed by the Vision Neue Klasse concept unveiled at the 2023 Munich auto show, along with a panoramic head-up display and cylindrical battery cells, among other features.