Here’s BMW’s all-electric 3-Series… for China (update)

Next month, BMW will launch the i3, but only on the Chinese market. It’s an extended version of the 3-Series marketed in Europe. This i3 eDrive35L will also be built locally at the Chinese BMW Brilliance Automotive Ltd. and will be offered with a 100% electric drive. For the time being, there are no plans for European export.

Despite its larger proportions, the i3 is still smaller than the i4, so it will be positioned underneath that model. Technologically, the car is different from both the iX3 and i4. Although it carries the name ‘i3’, it is in no way a successor to the first (compact) electric model launched by BMW in 2013.

Digital Key

BMW claims that the i3 eDrive35L will be fitted with BMW’s latest electric drive components. These include the 5th generation electric motors and the OS8 operating system, which is related to the software already used in other BMW EV products (iX3, i4, and iX).

The all-electric 3-Sseries will also feature advanced connectivity, such as Digital Key technology, which allows you to open and close the car and check the battery charge status using your smartphone.

Low centre of gravity

The i3 eDrive35L is a classic rear-wheel-driven car with the electric motor and drive differential housed in the rear axle; the boot doesn’t suffer greatly from the battery switch and still offers 410 liters of maximum capacity.

The battery is integrated into the vehicle’s floor to keep the center of gravity low. The inverter, electronics, and electric air conditioning unit lie under the classic front hood. The electric motor delivers 210 kW and 400 Nm, and the car has an official consumption of 14,3 kWh/100 km.

526 km range

With a battery capacity of 70,3 kWh (66,1 kWh net), it would achieve a CLTC driving range of 526 kilometers. Note that the Chinese measurement method is more optimistic than the WLTP driving cycle used in Europe.

In terms of charging modes, there is a three-phase AC charger (11 kW) and a DC fast charger that reaches 95 kW. In optimal conditions, the battery can be charged from 10 to 80% in 35 minutes.

Production started, price revealed

A big month after its unveiling, production of the BMW i3 eDrive35L has now started. The all-electric sedan is manufactured at the BMW Brilliance Automotive plant in Lydia, a district of Shenyang. Lydia is BMW Brilliance’s third plant in the city. Only recently, the expansion of the Dadong plant was opened, the second plant is located in the Tiexi district.

With production starting and deliveries soon to begin, it is now also clear how much the e-saloon will cost. Prices start from 349 900 yuan, which currently corresponds to just under € 50 000.

This makes the i3 eDrive35L slightly cheaper than a Shanghai-built Tesla Model 3 Performance (367 900 yuan/€ 52 000). The latter does, however, have all-wheel drive. There is a basic Model 3 with LFP battery and rear-wheel drive on the Chinese market that is considerably cheaper at 279 900 yuan (around € 39 700).


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