Electric BMW i4 Spied For First Time: Looks Ready To Roll

JAN 25 2019 BY MARK KANE 67

BMW i4 is already undergoing road tests

The test prototype of the BMW i4 (based on the BMW i Vision Dynamics concept and schedule for 2021) was recently seen for the first time.

The car is camouflaged but not that much to not be able to draw some thoughts before the official unveiling, which most likely will be at the Frankfurt Car Show in September.

According to what we know so far, the i4 will be built on universal CLAR modular architecture (for gasoline, diesel, plug-in hybrid and all-electric cars). It will be part of the 4 Series Gran Coupe lineup, which will translate to a more conventional design, as compared to the i3 and i8. The production of i4 is expected alongside the conventional 4 Series Gran Coupe as a way to save costs and increase flexibility in relation to demand of different versions.

Here is what we noticed:

  • The front end will be different compared to the 4 Series Gran Coupe, as there is no need for a huge grill and it must fit the modern EV style.
  • Door handles seem to be different – it looks like you just slide your hand under to open the door.
  • Battery pack probably slightly raises the ride position compared to the 4 Series Gran Coupe.
  • Painted exhaust pipes – thankfully those will not come standard on the i4

BMW i4 expected (unofficial) specs:

  • BMW i4 80 sDrive (for rear-wheel drive)
  • BMW i4 80 xDrive (for dual motor all-wheel drive)
  • 80 kWh (plus 60 kWh version)
  • 5th generation eDrive platform for BEVs will be offering ranges between 550-700 km (340-435 miles)
13 photos

Images: CarPix

Categories: BMW, Spy Photos

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67 Comments on "Electric BMW i4 Spied For First Time: Looks Ready To Roll"

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That looks like it might be really nice looking. More interested in this then their concepts they have put out.

Yes….it looks really good from what I can see so far. I hope it has a more modern EV exterior and interior design. And if they want to go head to head with Model 3, it better come with a giant touchscreen, and talk about over the air updates, etc. I also bet we will see it by 2020 because Model 3 will quickly dominate in Europe when the base model arrives by 2020. I expect it to start at about $50k since BMW has very low EV volume, so it will compete with the Model 3 LR Dual Motor and Performance, while Model 3 base RWD will have that lower price point all to itself for a while.

But glad to see it’s coming…

Model 3 base doesn’t exist yet. It will be a long time before Europe gets that car. That said, the range numbers quoted in the article are wildly exaggerated and the efficiency (MPGe) will lag behind Tesla. I think a more conventional control/display layout would be welcome, not a negative, but I’m 68.

NA should get the base Model 3 in 1st qtr, with Europe getting it in 2020. Base Model 3 should roll off the line in China by the end of 2019 as well. The game is changing to high volume to reach profitability at lower entry pricing.

And yeah, the range numbers in the article seem to be very much exaggerated.

It seems very unlikely at this point that base Model 3 will be available anywhere before Q2 at the earliest. (Though I kinda expect a $40,000 variant first as an intermediate step…)

Either way, base Model 3 will still be available long before BMW i4 though.

After all this might not only be an EV, but finally a handsome electric BMW.

I used to like BMW design and owned many BMWs through out the years.
BMW looks very dull to me now, no major design change for over 15 years, all the models looks the same (except i3, i8), just different size and doors. iNext concept looks very refreshing, but looking at the cover up i4, I’m afraid it’s going to be another dull BMW sharing the same old design.

BMW never looked anything but dull to me…

(With the obvious exceptions of the really cool i8 and the not pretty but unique i3.)

Any chance they will sell it outside China & US CARB states?

Of course, they will because i3 and i8 are available to most countries.

I know it is test mule, but it looks a bit ugly. I hope that the final production version will look good as that iVision dynamics concept

Repeat after me … looks are subjective! …. and people mostly do not think whether you or me like looks of a car or not.

so why are you replying? Umangi is simply stating an opinion

Some people don’t buy a car based on its looks, but an awful lot of them do.

I agree with Umangi Singh. Hard to tell under that camouflage, but I think this is not going to win any awards for style. But after the polarizing style of the i3, perhaps BMW thinks staid and boring is an improvement in EV design.

What’s the range?

5th generation eDrive platform for BEVs will be offering ranges between 550-700 km (340-435 miles)

That is either NEDC or WLTP, so given 60 and 80 kWh I would imagine more like EPA of 220-290 mile range (maybe up to 250-320).


700 km WLTP with 80 kWh in a car that won’t win any efficiency awards by the looks? Yeah, right…

Once you convert to EPA(NEDC minus 40%), 80kWh battery gives them 261 miles. Close to an 85kWh Tesla, nowhere near 435 miles.

Oh wait. It is lighter than Tesla S by a half tone or so…

Then that means a significantly smaller battery pack, unless BMW is using carbon fiber for the body here, as they did for the i3. So far as I know, BMW isn’t continuing down that path.

“But it seems that now, 300km (186 miles) is the minimum that you can offer to have an accepted range for customers. Then there’s competition – Tesla, Audi and Mercedes are doing 400km (250 miles) in WLTP. So it seems to be again beyond 300km – up to 600km (375 miles) or 700km (435 miles). But if you look at the numbers we’ve already spoken about, the iX3 will be beyond 400km and the i4 will be around 600km. The iNEXT will be on top of that, as well.”

This is what Irlinger said, so I guess the 80 kwh version will be around 600km (375 miles) WLTP. So maybe similar to the Model 3 Epa? Hopefully…

Probably a bit less than Model 3, with a battery only slightly larger, and likely lower efficiency.

Cutting between 120-145 miles (even just 90-115 miles) of the measured range between WLTP and EPA, seems like wayyy too much to me. Cutting around 30% between the test-cycles, doesn’t fit with the difference in range tested on other cars.
If you only mean NEDC I see it as more possible, but still on the high end.

*WLTP I’m sure. But quite likely over 300 miles EPA. Looks to be a solid competitor!

This seems to have similar battery capacity to Model 3, so I would expect no better than that car (probably slightly worse).

NEDC is 70-80% of what is really doable in real world so it could be 385 – 490 or 440 – 560

I’d almost bet money the EPA range rating — that is, a realistic rating — will be considerably less.

This is a big disappointment.
The i4 was supposed to be a carbon-fiber – pure EV built like the 3 series.
Now, it will not have the quiet and additional weight loss and performance advantage of carbon fiber.
Also, it doesn’t look like the i4 concept that was a Knock Out.

The concepts will have almost no appeal to existing BMW customers who will want the BMW classic styling and character. This car looks like it was actually designed to appeal to BMW customers, which I think is a good thing when you are losing customers to Tesla. Cars like weird iVision Dynamic and iNext won’t stop people from leaving the brand. They are more to appeal to different customers.

Although electrics are heavy, the weight doesn’t impact efficiency as much as an ICE car as the regenerative braking helps dramatically in the situations where weight would hurt efficiency (around town start/stop and hills). With my i3 I see no benefit to its light weight. It doesn’t feel light in a traditional sense, it doesn’t handle well and isn’t really that fast. My Mini Cooper S Clubman feels much lighter and more tossable even though they weigh the same and are similar dimensions.

Have you tried the i3s (sport)? It’s better than the i3 for handling and what not. I was convinced I didn’t “need” the upgrade and could save some cash… that was before I test drove both and now I own an i3s. CFRP is the bees knees… not only is it lighter but the i3 feels as solid as a brick sh**house on wheels. Sometimes I hit speed bumps going too fast and it makes me concerned for the health of the speed bump!

My only hope in all this is that BMW doesn’t cancel the i3, but I’ve heard 2019 is the last year for production. I will be very disappointed if this is true! That car is a modern engineering marvel and getting better every model year. I think BMW should give the i3s a 60kw battery, 150kw DCFC, and keep the REX optional for a car that probably 95% of Americans could happily use as their primary vehicle.

No, I have not, and I think that might help my complaints with my 2015 i3 REx. I still love the i3, but it really isn’t what I would consider sporty. They went low weight for efficiency, but it isn’t more efficient than a Model 3 so they should have went low weight for good handling and hurt efficiency some.

My issue with i3 comes down to not really being sustainable for the performance/price mix. It is a wonderful car, but I waited for off lease model before I bought one as it was less than half MSRP with only about 6k miles. I love the corrosion resistance for Iowa and it is such a nice little car (but won’t ever be a huge seller).

I hope they will continue as well, so I can buy a used one in a while. Loved the one I had as a company car

I have owned a 2014 i3 REx (with 81,000 miles on it) since new as well as 5 MINIs (from MC to limited edition JCW GP) over the past 16 years. The low weight of the i3 has paid dividends – it’s incredibly efficient at most speeds when you want it to be, yet it’s quick, nimble, and fun but I don’t feel it handles as well as MINIs nor as well as other BMWs. It sucks in the snow too LOL.

It’s still fun on the back roads as long as you don’t push it too much. The biggest letdown is the suspension / wheel / tire package, but most of that has been addressed with the newer i3 and i3s. I have not driven the new ones. The rest of the car is great – unique and comfortable interior, very quiet and brisk performance, plenty of usable space inside for people and stuff, environmentally clean and efficient. Just wish I had the new i3/i3s suspension setup and the updated battery pack……………looking forward to i4.

Maybe now it will be affordable instead of exotic.

I think BMW will have a hit if they price it comparably to BMW 3 series ($40-70k) and make it perform better (Tesla Model 3). If they price it more like 5 or 7 series… This is where I think they will fail.

You can tell from the images that this car has some fake body shell parts for camouflage. It may look differently below those camouflage parts, maybe even similar to the concept.

BMW said a while back that the i4 was going to basically just be an Electric 4-series GranCoupe… which is exactly what this looks like.

What is the point to have that painted fake exhaust pipes and then “Electric Test Vehicle” label above them ?..

It’s part of the camouflage. BMW being cute.

Automotive design engineers have a sense of humor they’re actually willing to display? First time I’ve ever seen anyone suggest that!

Fake news…. J/k 😉

It gives us something to talk about does it not?

Irrelevant in the long term just like the bumper sticker that I saw today on a Vauxhall Astra 1.6ltr engine)
It read ‘Prius Deflector’ and had an arrow pointing at the tailpipe that was after market and stupidly loud. Irrelevant.
In the not too distant future that car may well be a museum piece.

“Electric Test Vehicle” label is a legal requirement for driving on public roads.

Could be rear cameras for autonomous features.

What, no suicide doors, I’m out.
Actually it looks pretty good, more like a nominal design which they put some thought into.

Exactly, like a design that might actually sell well. Rear opening doors are a terrible idea unless they are able to open with the front doors closed (which they generally don’t for highway safety reasons). Not that I don’t like rear opening doors, but they indicate a 2 door with easier access rear seats, not a 4 door (my i3 I treat it like a 2 door).

I would love to see 550-700 even if it was by NEDC

So what’s under that big hood on the i4 BEV? Does it just get wasted because of the shared platform? Same question for trunk space. Is there an extra space below the trunk floor because the gas tank has been removed or is that just wasted as well?

I saw this as someone interested in this car that (as should be expected) will definitely cross shop it against ground-up BEV designs.

Indeed. When they said they intend to use a common platform, it was already clear there will be *some* compromises… But this is even worse. It doesn’t seem like they designed a custom body at all — just applied minor modifications to the combustion version. With that giant hood etc. this is going to do poorly in terms of aerodynamics, weight, and space utilisation. No match for Model 3, or any of the models on dedicated platforms coming from VW, GM, etc.

That looks a lot like a 3 GT…

It looks more like a 4er GC then a 3er GT.

So whats sitting above it, and is that the BEV mini in front?

Might be the SUV above it. iX3?

With the Germans you never know if range numbers are based on NEDC (bogus) or WLTP (less bogus). Take 15% off any range numbers from the German manufacturers at a minimum.

Interesting – it is quite conventional looking.

Hey – the yellow and black camo car just in front of it – looks like a Mini? And what vehicle is above it, on the truck?

BMW always made great cars and I am sure this one will be no exception. I just wish they would bring them faster.

GAPS GAPS Everywhere!!

Traditionally the camo is to indicate that the design is not finalized for what is covered with camo. This car is so covered in camo that I’m not sure we can read much into it. Hard to know if it is just a drivetrain mule.

I say this because the current 4-Series BMW is now 5 years old, and the Next Generation of 4-Series cars is due to come out between now and 2021 when the i4 is supposed to debut. I would be shocked if the i4 were based on anything other than the next generation chassis. And images of that haven’t been released yet.

Camo doesn’t generally mean the design is not finalised — just that they don’t want to reveal it yet…

I agree though that this might very well just be a mule. In fact I *hope* it is — if the real one also looks like a combustion car, it will do poor against dedicated BEVs.

Hardly ‘based on the 4 Series GC’, it’s more upright light the 3 Series GT.

Looks: meh. Boring BMW style. I’m sure the Bimmer crowd will love it.

That is exactly who it is to appeal to. Like MB EQC, Audi e-Tron, etc. Appeal to their respective brands drivers. Retain customers that like the brand but want an EV.

Sharing a platform means it will be compromised and cannot compete against the Tesla Model 3. Looks like a weak effort by BMW.

Disappointing! Dosent look anything like the concept. Why does it have a so long hood as if it is a ICE car, and basic proportions looks to be very different. Cant see any lines and creases carried across from concept. It was intended to be a Gran Coupe but this looks like a Gran Turismo. Had really big hopes after seeing the concept, but this prototype turned it all down. All BMW had to do was to fix that grill from the concept and they would have a winner. It is coming in 2021, so maybe this early prototype is just a drivetrain mule. They have 2 years to fix it and give us what they promised.

I saw one at the local grocery store in Oakland, CA a few days ago. It had red carpool stickers already, so it’s been on the road awhile!