Compact BMW i1 and i2 EVs are coming

The BMW i1 and BMW i2 have long been in the rumor mill. BMW Group’s company’s board has finally approved the launch of the compact EVs.

A new report from the specialized English magazine Autocar says the BMW i1 and i2 have received the green signal. These entry-level EVs have been developed at the BMW Group Research and Innovation Centre in Munich, Germany.

The German automaker aims to make its EV line-up more accessible by launching these lower-priced models. The electric BMW i range currently starts with the iX1, priced from ± €50,000.

Based on ‘Neue Klasse’ platform

Detailed plans for the BMW i1 and BMW i2 still seem shrouded in secrecy, as there’s no definitive word on their body style. Autocar says BMW may sell the i1 as a hatchback or a sedan and the i2 as a compact crossover with the option of a coupe body style.

Internal sources privy to the development suggest the i2 will be a spiritual successor to the i3, the radical electric small hatchback BMW manufactured for some eight and a half years between 2013 and 2022.

The original i3 was launched in 2013 and ended its career in 2022 /BMW

The BMW i1 and i2 may feature a design inspired by the BMW i Vision Circular show car. Certain design cues may also come from the larger BMW i Vision Dee and BMW Vision Neue Klasse X concepts, which are expected to evolve into the next-generation BMW i3 sedan and  BMW iX3, respectively.

The new entry-level BMW i models will be based on an ‘NBx’ version of the Neue Klasse 800-volt, dedicated EV platform. Other versions of this platform include ‘NAx’ and ‘NDx,’ planned for larger and more luxurious models, and ‘ZAx,’ set to underpin BMW M electric sports cars.

NAx is the platform the imminent i3 Series sedan and the iX3 ‘Neue Klasse’ are based on, with rear-wheel-drive or four-wheel drive versions. NDx is a larger version of this platform for BMW’s high-end luxury EVs.

The NBx version will allow FWD and AWD drivetrain layouts, just like the 400-volt FAAR platform that underpins the BMW iX1. Autocar has been told that plans exist for the electric iX1 and its Mini Countryman sibling to switch from the 400V FAAR platform to the 800V NBx platform as part of efforts to achieve greater economies of scale.

BMW’s Vision Concepts for the ‘Neue Klasse’ 3 Series in sedan and SUV form /BMW

Room to play in the lower segment

Being entry-level EVs, the BMW i1 and BMW i2 may have batteries with lesser energy density than larger and more expensive models and thus require charging more frequently.  However, thanks to their 800-volt platform, they should be able to take advantage of ultra-fast chargers and ensure customers find them convenient and practical. The batteries will likely be moduleless units consisting of BMW’s sixth-generation cylindrical cells, which will partly compensate for the energy density.

“Affordable models like the BMW 1 Series and BMW 2 Series have lower profitability but are essential to remain relevant to younger customers and grow in certain markets,” said Bernd Körber, the company’s product boss, in a recent conversation with Autocar.

The discontinuation of the entry-level Mercedes A-Class hatchback in the future should give BMW more room to play in the compact luxury car segment. The BMW i1 is expected to hit the market first in 2027, and the BMW i2 will follow in 2028. The two models will then be sold alongside updated versions of today’s combustion-powered 1 Series and 2 Series.

One push of the button

While ‘Neue Klasse’ includes an all-new bespoke electric architecture, it also encompasses next-generation software and connectivity functionality that will be rolled out across all future BMW models regardless of their underpinnings, Körber added.

“We will change the entire portfolio within a relatively short period of time so that it has one look and feel and also the same capabilities,” Körber explained to Autocar. “Our ambition is to unify that in a way that ideally, one push of the button updates your entire portfolio.”

At BMW, the new electric era started with the i Vision Circular Concept in 2021 /BMW


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