BMW R&D chief Klaus Froehlich says the company will launch a third BMW i car but it won’t arrive until at least 2020. “We are still in the strategic research phase where we brainstorm,” Froehlich told Automotive News Europe. “Teams that start with a white sheet of paper. They talk with customers, hold workshops, then present their ideas and we decide.”
Continue Reading Below
Froehlich denies that the third model would be a fully electric X5 SUV. The company has unveiled a hybrid SUV. The R&D chief said the mission of the i brand is to emphasize low-emission cars, therefore there are no plans to re-package an existing BMW model and call it an i model.
In his vision, the i brand should serve as a starting point for cutting-edge innovation which will be utilized in the future by the standard lineup.
BMW’s focus in the near future is with the battery technology.
“We have a minimum 20 percent battery density improvement every three years, thus over the i3 and i8’s life cycle, we will offer more performance, more range or a combination of the two,” Frohlich said.
Froehlich says that a battery retrofit is not feasible. “I don’t think a retrofit makes sense. When better batteries are available, we could then offer models with a longer range or with the same range but at a lower price.”
He added that replacing the batteries is very complex because they are integrated and bonded into the chassis.
While BMW is not planning to launch another new i model until 2020, the expectations are that a special i8 will be unveiled next year.