BMW Expected To Unveil All Electric 3 Series Later This Year

4 months ago by Adrian Padeanu 31

2016 BMW 330e

But isn’t it too late in the current generation’s life cycle?

The closest thing BMW has right now to a full electric 3 Series is the plug-in hybrid 330e pictured here. It is believed the popular premium sedan will lose its combustion engine altogether as soon as September at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Germany’s Handelsblatt reports the 3 Series EV will debut at IAA with a range of around 248 miles (400 kilometers) to go after the forthcoming Tesla Model 3. Bear in mind the range is likely based on the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC), so expect much less in the real world. An EPA rating would be more accurate.

It’s the only piece of information we have for the moment and the news comes somewhat as a surprise. Why? Because the next-generation 3 Series is scheduled to debut at some point in 2018, so why come out with an EV derivative based on an outgoing model?

The only logical explanation we are able to come up with is that it’s going to be a concept rather than a production model. Aside from previewing an electric 3 Series, the concept would effectively serve as a teaser for the whole conventionally powered family. That is the norm nowadays in the car industry: first there’s a concept and then after a while the actual production model makes its debut.

2016 BMW 330e

BMW’s only EV on sale today is the i3 and it will be followed in 2020 by the already confirmed electric X3 and a year later by the flagship iNext.

If an electric 3 Series is indeed Frankfurt-bound, maybe BMW will drop a few teasers in the next couple of months to keep us in suspense. For the moment, Automotive News says the automaker has declined to comment.

As a final note, another rumor about BMW’s plans to electrify its lineup involves the 3 Series GT successor expected to be promoted to the 4 Series family and go full EV. Maybe there is a connection between the two reports?

Source: Automotive News via Handelsblatt

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31 responses to "BMW Expected To Unveil All Electric 3 Series Later This Year"

  1. Chris O says:

    Meh, 3 series is a typical ICE design with it’s long hood designed to suggest an expansive and (therefore) powerful internal combustion engine so wouldn’t it become a bit ridiculous when converted to electric drive? What would that long hood be for, a very big frunk?

    I don’t see an ideal conversion candidate here, maybe best go with a bespoke design tailored around the packaging needs of an electric motor plus battery pack rather than those of a large internal combustion engine. Added bonus could be lots of interior space for size rather than the other way around as is the case with the 3 series.

    1. DJ says:

      You mean like the Model 3, S, & X?

      1. Chris O says:

        No, I don’t mean that because all those have relatively small hoods for the size of the car.

        Model 3 is probably a bit more evolved in that respect than Model S with a very distinct cap forward design.

        3 series is still very much at the opposite site of that gradually evolving design curve being a typical ICE design.

      2. floydboy says:

        Don’t the Models S and X have the most interior storage capacity in their respective categories?

        1. Me says:

          Yes and no.

          If you categorize the S properly based on its exterior dimensions and passenger volume, it is a midsize sedan, meaning it competes with cars like the Camry, Mazda 6, 5 Series, E Class, etc. In that respect it has the largest cargo volume by far.

          However, if you go with the Tesla marketing, use their preferred choice of EPA calculations (there’s a myriad of ways manufacturers can use to calculate passenger and cargo volume that are official but different, thats why comparing on paper is a no no), then the S gets skewed into the full size category which includes cars like the Avalon, XJ, S Class, 7 series, etc. Relative to these cars, the S has much less passenger space and total all volume they’re all about the same.

          The other misleading calculation is how cargo volume is determined. In sedans it’s only up to the trunk top. In liftbacks it’s up to the glass and roof. So it’s not accurate to categorize size class based on this metric relative to others. Other manufactuers dont do this. BMW still places their 5 GT, 3 GT, 4 GC in the same class. Same as Audi with their Sportback lines. They dont artificially skew it up to the next size class.

          Its just Tesla marketing to make the car look better from a technical and price perspective for consumers who dont take time to look at the facts and come to their own conclusions.

          1. Don Zenga says:

            If you can stuff things up to the rear windshield, then you have to include all that space and that’s why Hatches, Wagons, Crossovers have lot of space.

            Please note that Model-S is a 7 seater (5 adults + 2 kids) and no sedan has this functionality.

            Overall Model-S has 126 cu. ft. of interior space including Frunk which puts it above Benz S Series.

    2. Me says:

      Incorrect. The long hood as an artifact of RWD car design to achieve 50/50 weight balance. The engine cannot be mounted ahead of the front axle. Thus you get a long hood with a cab back desigs versus a cab forward design of FWD cars which are front heavy.

  2. DJ says:

    Ohhhhhhh, *insert expletive*.

    Will be very interesting if they can actually pull it off and at a reasonable price.

    1. DJ says:

      Should have added that the other site claims it may be available to purchase some time in 2018.

      1. SJC says:

        Make an aluminum BMW 3e, it will sell well.

  3. LS says:

    Considering that the BMW i3 is already $42k, if BMW offers a BEV version of their 3-series, it will only expose the magnitude of the price advantage of the Tesla Model 3.
    I don’t think BMW is ready to go head-to-head against Tesla.
    The classic interior/exterior design of the 3-series might attract some buyers but not at $10k more for inferior performance over the Model 3.

  4. jelloslug says:

    I expect it to be approaching Model S prices with a trunk full of batteries.

  5. floydboy says:

    Sorry, this finger in the dam, won’t slow down the water.

  6. Stimpy says:

    This is good news. Price is always a factor of course, but there’s also these factors to consider when competing with Tesla:

    1. BEV design from the ground up
    2. Well planned charging network
    3. Educated sales support with inventory cars to see in person
    4. OTA updates for the entire car, not just the media stack

    So far nearly everyone has been non-competitive (to put it kindly!) with 2, 3, and 4. I’ve found the i3 is already extremely rare to find at most BMW dealers and though the salespeople were more informed than what I found over at Chevy, they were still well behind Tesla salespeople. Also will NA dealers be willing to promote sales of a car that promises to reduce future Service work for them? I have my doubts!

    I had an i3 lease for 2 years and though it nailed #1 (I loved the car) I’d give it a grade “F” on 2-4. Charging network? LOL! Stock on hand? I literally bought the one on the showroom floor and they had one other. When I went back after my lease was over both dealers in the area had ZERO! In the 2 years I had 2 software updates that I had to go to the dealer and get the car the next day as it took them SEVERAL HOURS to apply.

    BMW is 100% capable of making great high quality cars, but I remain unconvinced they can truly compete with Tesla. The game has changed.

    1. Stimpy says:

      Oh an I forgot BMW still charges something like $400 for navigation map updates that they roll out twice a year. I’m like WHAT YEAR IS THIS?

      1. bogdan says:

        I suggest using a smart phone for navigation. They are better than any car navigation and updates the maps by itsself, for free of course.
        400$ update? for this amount u get a smart phone which has about 100 the computing power of a BMW.

        1. stimpy says:

          I have used both and actually used to agree with you, until I used an integrated nav (BMW iDrive).

          A phone simply doesn’t compare. I don’t have to plug anything in, it’s far easier and safer to control while driving, the display is 11″ vs 4″, it knows my existing battery range, etc.

  7. leafowner says:

    Tesla is the New BMW — and BMW knows that. They are terrified…..The BMW group sold 2,367,603 cars last year — just over 2 million were BMW’s

    Tesla already has >500k reservations for the Model 3 plus their Model S already outsells the 7 series in many places. What happens when Tesla starts selling the Model Y, a sport coupe and a truck?!? Not hard to see where BMW is heading.

    1. Hans Wurst says:

      Yes, I’m sure BMW is worried s******* /s

      “The BMW Group has achieved its best ever sales in 2016, the sixth year in a row the company has set a new sales record, maintaining its position as the world’s leading premium car company with its three brands, BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce.”

      http://auto.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/industry/bmw-group-records-best-ever-sales-in-2016-for-6th-straight-year/56438431

      1. Nick says:

        If they’re not worried about Tesla eating their lunch they’re fools.

      2. stimpy says:

        Blackberry sales actually increased for about 1-2 years after the iPhone came out.

        How is their business doing now?

    2. theflew says:

      First time I’ve heard >500k reservations. Also initial demand isn’t the issue it’s sustained demand.

    3. Hans Wurst says:

      Not so sure BMW is terrified, they just had
      achieved record global sales for the fifth consecutive year…

    4. DJ says:

      I really wonder how many of those 500k reservations are going to turn in to actual purchases. Of the 5 people I know who actually paid $1k to get a reservation 3 of them have already cancelled and bought something else.

      The 400k reservations were made when there literally wasn’t much in the way of alternative. Now there is and there will be even more next year and the year after. Those alternatives will also get you the full tax credit if you’re eligible.

      Has anyone actually gotten a list of current and active reservations or is Tesla still just giving out the initial 400k and then whatever else they get on top. Paying what on average $45k for a quick Civic is going to be an issue for a lot of people I think. Last I heard they haven’t issued an up to date # since what a year ago. While maybe good for people who actually end up wanting the car and buying one if a decent chunk of reservations don’t turn in to sale it won’t be good for Tesla. Time will tell I guess.

      1. Jim Bo says:

        “Quick Civic”. but a Civic has a proper dash.

    5. ModernMarvelFan says:

      “Tesla already has >500k reservations for the Model 3 ”

      When did it cross 500K mark? In your alternative reality or it is a fact supported by some real evidence?

      If it does, then I am glad. But that is 500K globally which is less than what Toyota Camry sells in 1 year globally.

      We don’t know if Tesla is going to get 500K (if true) sustained going forward. I highly doubt that. I hope I am wrong though.

      1. Just_Chris says:

        Global production of the 3 series is around 400k per year. I think that would be a reasonable target for the model 3 to aim for. I suspect the reservation rate has dropped to pretty much nothing now purely because people will be waiting to see how good the model 3 is before people look to buy.

        I know nothing other than what I have read on the internet but I suspect for the next 2-3 years Tesla will keep a healthy order back log to give some certainty to their business. If production starts to catch supply then they’ll probably reduce the price or focus more on their stationary or solar products. If the order book remains healthy then I think they will push to expand production. Going on what has happened over the last 10 years I suspect tesla will paint a rosey picture, constantly talking up how they are growing so fast that they can’t keep up. Conversely I think that the bob lutz’s of this world will keep talking about what a failure Tesla is and how the only reason they exist is because of crazy people with too much money playing the stock market.

        What ever happens I think Tesla is here to stay.

  8. Rich says:

    BMW might have a 3 series EV that might be revealed at an auto show that might be available in a couple years that might get 200 miles range that might have a battery supply to sell more than a few thousand that might be as good as the model 3 that might be as inexpensive as the model 3 that might be a production intent version instead of a concept car.

    Did I miss anything? Sounds more like a comedy skit.

  9. Don Zenga says:

    This is just to prevent the BMW fans from buying Model 3.
    That’s why they are saying this just 4 weeks before the launch.
    Ha ha.

  10. Just_Chris says:

    IMO this was always on the cards. The BMW i3 drive train could be repackaged for a 3 series. If they went that way, I think a pure BEV option would be offered but I suspect that the more popular option would be a 33 kWh BMW 3 series with a REX. My opinion is that would be perfectly capable of competing with a model 3. Especially in the EU where you may have intermittent access to overnight charging due to on street parking. I don’t know how things will pan out but I could easily imagine a future where you can charge fairly frequently at public L2 chargers. Something like a situation where there are chargers at work, at the shops and a few on the street where you park your car at night but nothing guaranteed. I could see a largish electric range with a REX being quite a good option for someone in that scenario. Most of the time you can charge but a couple a days in the week you miss out. That would be too frequent to look for a fast charger but not such a disaster if you had a REX. I suspect the counter option to that is a Tesla like range (80 kWh) so you don’t need to charge every day meaning if you get unlucky you’d have to go an find a fast charger for 30 min which won’t be a problem if it was a fairly infrequent event.

  11. bogdan says:

    BMW is planning to launch a 3 series BEV in 4 years from now.
    So just stay cool, don’t hold your breath and keep driving the Model 3 meanwhile.

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