MERE MONTHS AFTER BMW ANNOUNCED ITS FIRST NEW EV IN NEARLY A DECADE (THE 516-HP IX SUV), THE BAVARIAN AUTOMAKER DOUBLES DOWN ON ITS COMMITMENT TO ELECTRIFICATION WITH THE RELEASE OF THE I4, AN ALL-ELECTRIC SPORT SEDAN WITH BRAVADO
BY EVAN MONROE
In 2013, a time when the still-nascent U.S. EV market was on the brink of taking off, BMW released its first mass-produced fully electric vehicle, the i3. The pint-sized, high-roof hatchback was only the second European all-electric to reach American shores. Its 80-mile range, futuristic albeit polarizing styling, and carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) construction made waves throughout the electro-sphere (and nabbed two World Car of the Year Awards in 2014), but it couldn’t quite escape from the shadows of a certain Silicon Valley startup and its newly released 300-mile EV sedan. Over the eight years of its life, the i3 never became a sales juggernaut, but it did cement BMW’s commitment to innovating electrification, paving the way for the Bavarian marque’s next generation of pure EVs and this time, they are taking on Tesla.
The announcement of the 516-horsepower compact SUV, the iX, came first, followed by a fastback sport sedan similar to the 4 Series Gran Coupe: the i4. Its spring debut proved it had the brawns, brains, and beauty to truly compete with the electric big dogs. It doesn’t appear as a spaceship concept, but sports sleek, subdued styling through an elongated, coupe-like exterior with either blue or gray accents. It will be available in two flavors: the baseline i4 eDrive40 and its more powerful brother, the i4 M50. The low-spec model boasts 300-mile range and 335 horsepower with 0-60 in 5.5 seconds. Upgrade to the all-wheel drive M50 for 536 ponies and a slashed 0-60 time of 3.7 seconds (though drivers will sacrifice 55 miles in range). The high-performance model also aunts design enhancements like exclusive badging, silky Cerium Grey accents, and BMW “M” wheels and mirrors. Feeding the machine is an 80.7-kWh battery with 40% more energy density than the latest i3; its 200kW charging capability can take the battery from 10-80% in 31 minutes, and depending on the model, can add between 88-108 miles in only ten minutes.
Production began in October, and the i4 is slated for an early 2022 arrival in showrooms.
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