BMW's Vision NEXT 100 concept is nothing like an SUV, and it's also nothing like a production car. But the concept's appearance at the company's Next 100 Years event in 2016 did get the rumormill up and running again about which plug-in vehicle will be the next to join the i3 and i8 in the BMWi line-up. At an event in Montreal focused on the company's plug-in future, BMW representatives shared a little more information about the real iNext, or i5, or whatever it will be called (the name is not final at this point).
The most interesting tidbit is unfortunately not about the plug-in powertrain at all, but about the car's autonomous functions. Kevin Marcotte, BMW's national manager for BMWi in Canada, said that the car will have Level 3 autonomous abilities, a bit less impressive than what we heard a year ago. Level 3 means the driver can be "hands off, eyes off," but needs to be ready to take over if the car alerts her to do so. He said that the iNext will be, "A major leap forward not only in terms of electrification, but also in technology. It will be the next big thing for us in terms of leapfrogging the industry." A lot of new technologies will debut in that model, he said, without getting into specifics. He did say that the shape will be a Sport Activity Vehicle (SAV) or crossover, which is, "more in tune with North American demands." We wonder what kind of vehicle it might compete with.
2017 BMW Plug-In Line-up, with i3, i8, MINI Countryman PHEV and iPerformance vehicles.
We already knew that the production version of the iNext will arrive in showrooms in 2021, as BMW confirmed again this week, and that there will be more plug-in goodness to come before that. In 2018, we will get the i8 Roadster, and an all-electric Mini EV is scheduled for 2019. There will be an X3 BEV in 2020 and, well, more, as you can see in the presentation slide image below.
BMW's Future EV Plans, including i8 Roadster, X3 BEV, iNext, and more.
What those "new" models are, BMW isn't saying, of course, but we'll keep asking.