Without revealing many details, Wenders says the future i model will be offered with a range extender option. “The range-extender plays an important part in the next years when range remains a limiting factor and a source of anxiety,” Wenders told Car and Driver. “Of course, once we get to a range that is more comparable with that of an internal-combustion engine it will become obsolete. So this is the reason I can say we will continue to offer the range-extender in the future as optional equipment, to address different customer needs.”
Wenders also spoke on the range extender usage in the i3, BMW’s first electric vehicle. “At the beginning of the i3, the [take rate of the] range-extender was much more than we expected,” Wenders said. “More than 60 percent. It’s decreasing dramatically now and what we’re seeing is that people are almost never using it and that it was purely a psychological thing; it is being regularly used in fewer than five percent of i3s.”
While the i3 is yet to become the primary car in a household, the i5 is likely to be the first option for single-car garages. “We are thinking of a new i model above it to attract families, and that means it must be capable of being the first car in the household. We are still working very hard on the usage concept, but this needs to be defined by the market and not by us.”
Wenders also confirmed that a carbon-fiber structure i5 is the obvious choice. “One of i’s roles is as an enabling brand, to help industrialize new materials and processes. We have already opened the door with the i3, and we will take it from there.”
The underpinnings of the BMW i5 are known internally as FSAR, short for flat battery storage assembly, similar to the modular CLAR platform underpinning several new BMWs allowing multiple cars to be channeled through the same factory.
Whether the new i model will be called i5 or i6, it’s still unclear, same goes for the bodystyle. While some rumors point to a sedan style, more recent ones hint at a crossover. Regardless of the name and design, the new i model will likely not arrive before 2020.