After giving China the i3 Sedan and introducing a globally available i7, BMW is gradually shifting focus toward the third saloon it will convert from ICE to EV. The i5 is coming sooner than you might think since the company announced back in mid-March it would start pre-production of the 5 Series without a combustion engine later in 2022. A few days ago, CEO Oliver Zipse confirmed the production version will hit the market sometime next year.

In the meantime, there’s a lot of testing that needs to be done to iron out the kinks. To the surprise of no one, BMW is evaluating prototypes of the first-ever i5 at the Nürburgring. The adjacent spy video largely focuses on the silent sedan, but the prototype with the license plate ending in “9595” spotted at a gas station had a combustion engine. You can clearly hear the ICE when the car is leaving whereas the only sound coming from the other test vehicle was the noise made by the tires.

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If it hadn’t been for the “Electric Test Vehicle” stickers on the i5, it would’ve been quite tricky to figure out which is which. That’s because BMW will be using the same formula applied to the 3 Series / i3 and 7 Series / i7 by yanking out the oily bits of the CLAR platform to cram in electric motors and a battery pack. For a dedicated EV architecture, you’ll have to wait until 2025 when the first Neue Klasse model – a 3 Series – will enter production at the new plant in Debrecen, Hungary.

The i5 is still in the early testing phase considering it lacks the final headlights and taillights. Those old-fashioned bulbs for the turn signals are certainly a provisional setup we won’t see on the final production vehicle. The lighting design is quite basic and certainly not worthy for a 2024 BMW. All prototypes are draped in camouflage, but even so, it’s easy to notice the flush door handle design inherited from recent models.

The disguise can’t hide what appears to be a sharper exterior design and a (thankfully) regular kidney grille size. While all i5 prototypes spotted thus far have been sedans based on the G60 5 Series, our sources close to BMW have told us a more practical wagon could follow as early as the 2024 calendar year. It would take after the G61 5 Series Touring and compete in a rarified electric wagon segment.

BMW is expected to start production of the 5 Series Sedan in July 2023. If it’s going to be anything like the 7 Series G70 / i7, the EV will be available from day one. The Touring and its zero-emissions equivalent should follow about a year later.

Source: Carspotter Jeroen / YouTube