It is a known fact that BMW M is working on a future M3 with an all-electric powertrain instead of the inline-six engine. The important disclosure was made in September by the company’s Head of Development Frank Weber. What were his exact words? “The next M3 will be battery-electric, fully battery-electric.” Earlier this week, just about everyone assumed the name of the high-performance EV would be “iM3” based on a trademark filing with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (UIPO) and the German Patent and Trade Mark Office (DPMA).

We were less certain because history has taught us that companies – not just automakers – sometimes secure the rights to a name so that it’s not grabbed by a rival brand. That would turn into a messy and costly legal battle so it’s best to take precautionary measures. Better safe than sorry, right? Our prudence is turning out to be valid because the electric sports sedan won’t actually be called “iM3.” In an interview with Top Gear magazine, BMW M boss Frank van Meel said there is never going to be an M car with the letter “i” in its name.

When TG asked the mayor in M Town about the prospects of an M car as a follow-up to the i8, van Meel said: “No, that will be a Mission Impossible! Actually, we would never use an i on an M, even though it would be electric. Because an M3 had a four-cylinder, six-cylinder, eight-cylinder engine; naturally aspirated, turbocharged ones. Now it’s even got an xDrive, but it always remained an M3.” He went on that M is not about the powertrain but rather about “a promise, it’s about motorsports, it’s about emotion.”

The M boss ruled out an electric/hybrid supercar, although he admitted that BMW’s performance division is “always dreaming about a car like that.” The closest we have gotten in recent years was with the M Vision Next concept but that never materialized into a production model. For now, a flagship sports car is “in our hearts, it’s in our mind,” said van Meel.

In the meantime, the first fully fledged M car with an all-electric powertrain is rumored to arrive in 2027. It’s allegedly codenamed “ZA0” and could have somewhere in the region of 700 horsepower. Based on the Neue Klasse platform, the speedy EV sedan could be followed by an electric M3 Touring (“ZA1”) wagon.

Source: Top Gear