The heart of the BMW brand beats in the premium segment of the mid-range category. Along with the BMW 4 Series Coupé, BMW 4 Series Convertible and BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé models, it is the BMW 3 Series that brings out the qualities that are key to hallmark brand driving pleasure in a particularly concentrated form.
Now BMW is transferring the brand’s characteristic core features to the age of electric mobility – the central purpose in developing the BMW i4.
The BMW Group’s first purely electrically powered model for the premium mid-range combines driving dynamics, sporty and elegant design, premium quality and the spacious comfort and functionality of a four-door Gran Coupé with locally emissions-free mobility. This heralds a new era of driving pleasure.
The future of electric mobility will be shaped by fifth-generation BMW eDrive technology, for which the BMW iX3 – to be produced from 2020 onwards – will act as a pioneer, followed by the BMW iNEXT and the BMW i4. With fifth-generation BMW eDrive technology, which also includes the latest innovations in the field of battery cells, the BMW i4 sets new standards in sporty performance, achieving a range of some 600 kilometres (373 miles).
The development of the BMW i4 is part of a comprehensive product offensive by the BMW Group in the field of models with electrified drive. The company currently has the biggest range of all-electric and plug-in hybrid models within the competitive field. By 2023, the BMW Group will have 25 models with electrified drive in its program. With a model portfolio that includes efficient combustion engines as well as modern plug-in hybrid and purely electric drive, the BMW Group as a globally operating company is taking into account the varying requirements and preferences of its customers in different regions of the world. Irrespective of the type of drive selected, all current and future models feature hallmark brand driving pleasure as part of their specific characteristics.
Fifth-generation BMW eDrive technology for optimised dynamics, efficiency and range
The drive technology of the BMW i4 sets new standards in terms of power density, efficiency and range in locally emissions-free driving. The electric motor, power electronics, charging unit and high-voltage battery have been entirely newly developed. Together they form the BMW eDrive technology of the fifth generation, with which the BMW Group has made further significant advancements in the field of electrified drive. From 2020 onwards, fifth-generation BMW eDrive technology will be introduced first in the BMW iX3 and then in the BMW iNEXT and BMW i4. The electric motor developed for the BMW i4 delivers a maximum output of around 390 kW/530 hp, reaching the level of a V8 engine in current BMW models fitted with a combustion engine. Its spontaneous power delivery gives the BMW i4 outstanding performance characteristics and exceptionally high efficiency.
The fifth generation of BMW eDrive also includes a newly designed high-voltage battery featuring the latest battery cell technology. The design of the high-voltage battery developed for the BMW i4 is characterised by its extremely flat design and optimised energy density. With a weight of some 550 kilograms, it has an energy content of around 80 kWh. This gives the BMW i4 a range of approximately 600 kilometres (373 miles).
Gran Coupé with characteristic design and performance features
The all-electric BMW i4 will be produced from 2021 onwards and subsequently launched on the global automotive markets. The new model will be manufactured at the company’s main plant in Munich, where other vehicles produced include the BMW 3 Series Sedan with conventional combustion engine and plug-in hybrid drive, the BMW 3 Series Touring with conventional drive and from summer 2020 also with plug-in hybrid drive, the BMW 4 Series Coupé and the BMW M4 Coupé (fuel consumption combined: 10.0 – 9.3 l/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 227 – 213 g/km). In addition to the sporty, elegant design that is typical of a 4-door coupé of the brand, the BMW i4 is characterised by impressive performance features. The BMW i brand’s first Gran Coupé accelerates from zero to 100 km/h (62 mph) in around 4.0 seconds, achieving a top speed of more than 200 km/h (124 mph).
A flexible vehicle architecture, the flat, low-positioned high-voltage battery and the compact drive technology create a high degree of freedom in realising a model-specific design. The BMW i4 combines the characteristic proportions of a 4-door coupé with the typical design features of a BMW i model. Dynamically stretched lines and a precise surface design go hand in hand with aerodynamically optimised exterior features as well as sustainability accentuations that are specific to BMW i. High entry and exit comfort for the rear passengers and a spacious, variable interior ensure high suitability for both day-to-day trips and long-distance travel. As such, the BMW i4 can be clearly identified as a BMW Gran Coupé – and equally clearly as an electrically powered vehicle.
Modular, flexible drive and battery storage technology
The electric drive component of the BMW i4, its charging unit and high-voltage battery are all developed in-house by the BMW Group. Production is carried out in-house or according to BMW Group specifications. Here, the experience gained from development of the previous generations of BMW eDrive technology is consistently tapped into with the aim of optimising all components on an ongoing basis.
The BMW Group’s comprehensive expertise in the field of electrified drive systems forms the basis for a scalable modular system whose components can be integrated into different vehicle concepts with great flexibility. Fifth-generation BMW eDrive technology comprises a highly integrated drive system in which the electric motor, transmission and power electronics are accommodated in a single housing. This drive system is compatible with all vehicle concepts and will be available for different models in a range of output levels. The highly integrated design of the system allows a significant increase in power density as well as a reduction in weight and manufacturing effort. Production of future-generation electric motors will no longer require materials categorised as rare earths.
The next generation charging unit is characterised by a uniform package suitable for all future vehicle architectures. It can be used in plug-in hybrid models as well as in purely electrically powered vehicles and is designed for a charging capacity of up to 150 kW. This allows the high-voltage battery of the BMW i4 to be charged to around 80 per cent of its full energy content in around 35 minutes. This results in a charging time of around six minutes for a range of 100 kilometres (62 miles).
In the field of high-voltage batteries, too, the advancements introduced with the fifth generation of BMW eDrive technology are based on the BMW Group’s in-depth expertise and years of experience. The company has an exceptionally high level of know-how both in the field of battery cell technology and in the manufacture of model-specific high-voltage batteries. This lays the foundation for continuous optimisation of the batteries – both in future plug-in hybrid models and in purely electrically powered vehicles. The BMW Group has been manufacturing modules and model-specific high-voltage batteries for vehicles with electrified drive systems since 2013. An independently developed modular system with a flexible arrangement of the modules enables integration of batteries developed in-house into various vehicle concepts. Consistent ongoing development work is dedicated to optimising the basic characteristics of the battery cells as well as the structure of the modules and their arrangement in the respective model-specific storage unit. For example, the batteries used in the BMW i4 and other future electric vehicles have a higher number of cells per module, a reduced number of components, a more compact design and increased flexibility with regard to their geometry.
With the establishment of the Battery Cell Competence Centre in Munich, the BMW Group has further expanded its research and development expertise in this area, which is crucial to the future of electromobility. The focus is on fundamental research in areas where there is an impact on customer-related factors such as energy density, accessible peak output, service life, safety, charging characteristics, response at different temperatures and manufacturing costs. At the new Battery Cell Competence Centre, research is being conducted in particular into the potential for further optimisation of cell chemistry and cell design. The selection and composition of materials for the anode, cathode, electrolyte and separator as well as the format of the battery cells made of these materials will have a key impact on the quality of high-voltage batteries used in future models with electrified propulsion.