The BMW I sub-brand is an odd one, as it touches on two drastically different sides of the automotive rainbow. On one end, you have the thrifty and tiny i3 hatchback. On the other end is the wild i8 hybrid sports car with its aggressive looks and great performance. Today, a new report from Car & Driver talks about the midrange i model that will satisfy families looking for their main car.
Car & Driver spoke with the i sub-brand’s head of product, Henrik Wenders, about this family-friendly rig, which most people expect to carry the i5 name. Wenders was surprisingly open to questions though he stopped short of giving any specifics.
The only big piece of information the Wenders revealed was that the i5 will have a range-extending gasoline engine. This confirms everyone’s expectation that the i5 will indeed use an electric motor for propulsion instead of being a hybrid model. Wenders mentioned that the range-extending engine is purely a temporary gap filler while the company waits for battery technology to allow for ranges that better rival gas-only cars. Once that threshold is crossed, range extenders will only be available as options to buyers in special situations.
BMW has noticed that range extenders were more of a temporary security blanket for nervous EV buyers, as the range-extending engine was included in roughly 60 percent of early i3 sales but has tapered off dramatically recently.
Wenders refused to get into a conversation regarding range, claiming that the range race has ended in the carbon footprint of producing EVs nearly matching the lifetime emissions of many gasoline models. This, of course, completely defeats the purpose of buying an EV.
Wenders did, however, mention that that i5 will feature a carbon-fiber structure that will make it lightweight and rigid. He also mentioned that this structure is so strong that “you could take away the roof without destabilizing the car,” clearly hinting at a convertible i model.
We’ll keep an eye on the developing i5—or whatever its name ends up being—and bring you more info as it becomes available.