New 2021 BMW i4: 532bhp and 373 mile range for BMW’s Tesla Model S rival

The German brand’s new all-electric saloon will go on sale in 2021, with a 523bhp electric drivetrain and a claimed range of 373 miles

BMW has revealed new technical specifications relating to the upcoming, all-electric i4 saloon, confirming a power figure and detailing the charging technology that’ll be used when the vehicle launches in 2021.

The i4 will feature a 523bhp electric drivetrain and a claimed range of more than 370 miles obtained under WLTP testing – meaning the i4 will be capable of going further on one charge than any version of the Porsche Taycan or the Tesla Model S currently on sale. 

The BMW i4 is fitted with one of the firm’s fifth-generation eDrive electric motors and is powered by an 80kWh battery pack, mounted low in the car’s chassis. BMW says the system has been designed to be lightweight, tipping the scales at 550kg, allowing the i4 to sprint from 0–62mph in around four seconds and reach a top speed of “more than 124mph.”

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The i4’s electric platform also features BMW’s latest charging tech, which, like the Audi e-tron, can support a charging capacity of up to 150kW. Using this system, the i4 can recover an 80 percent charge from empty in around 35 minutes – which equates to 62 miles of range every six minutes.

Robert Irlinger, head of BMW’s i division, told Auto Express about the planned battery tech for the i4 at the Frankfurt Motor Show back in September. 

“We asked the customers; it seems to be that the starting point for i3 in the early days was okay. But it seems that now, 300km (186 miles) is the minimum that you can offer to have an accepted range for customers,” said Irlinger.

“Then there’s competition – Tesla, Audi and Mercedes are doing 400km (250 miles) in WLTP. So it seems to be again beyond 300km – up to 600km (375 miles) or 700km (435 miles). But if you look at the numbers we’ve already spoken about, the iX3 will be beyond 400km and the i4 will be around 600km. The iNEXT will be on top of that, as well.”

Irlinger also admitted that BMW could offer the i4 with a choice of battery capacities for different price points. “It could be that different ranges are a good solution,” he said. “If it’s true that 300km is enough for some customers, then it could be wise to do a 300km version and a 600km version.

“We’ll have to look at demand, of course, because up to now, what we’ve found is that the customers tend to always buy the bigger battery anyway. But if you live in a city and do most miles there, and you have your own charging point or good infrastructure nearby, then 300km at a cheaper price could be fine.”

New 2021 BMW i4: design and platform

BMW hopes the new i4 will push its range of electric vehicles towards the mainstream market, narrowing the gap between the firm’s radical i3 and i8 EVs and its traditional 3 and 5 Series saloons. As such, the EV’s styling has been pared-back from the all-electric BMW concepts of late, adopting conventional BMW styling.

Up to now, BMW’s standalone i models have been very distinct from anything else in the firm’s line up, helped by their unique construction and unusual styling features. For the i4, BMW has ditched the enlarged connected kidney grille and narrow headlights seen on the iNEXT SUV or the M Vision Next sports car in favour of the standard 4 Series Gran Coupe’s body shell – likely to make the saloon more production-friendly.

To keep costs low and volume-production attainable for the i4, it will be based on BMW’s latest CLAR platform, which is a modular architecture designed to underpin everything from the 3 Series up to the 7 Series – and to accommodate petrol, diesel, plug-in hybrid and pure-electric powertrains.

BMW confirmed at the 2018 Paris Motor Show that the i4 will follow soon after the iX3 all-electric SUV and the production version of the larger iNEXT crossover. Company boss Harald Kruger revealed the dates for the pure-electric models that will join the i3 in BMW’s line-up.

Kruger said: “we have already over 300,000 electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids on the road, and more are on the way. In 2019 we’ll launch the MINI Electric. In 2020 the BMW iX3 will come. Then in 2021 we will launch the BMW iNEXT and the i4, so by that year we will have five core electric vehicles on the ground. This underlines our strong commitment to future mobility.”

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BMW design director Adrian van Hooydonk told us, “I think in the next few years, electric mobility will become standard; it will become normal. It will become just one of those powertrains that you can choose. And that will probably lead to the customers not necessarily wanting a design differentiation.

“With the original i3, we wanted to give our customers the feeling that they are stepping into the future. But in the future we will offer our customers the choice; they can be very secret about the fact that their BMW is electric, or they will be able to be overt about it.”

Do you think the BMW i4 will be a groundbreaking electric car? Let us know your thoughts in the comments… 

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