Is this proof that an electric BMW 3 Series is in development?
By 2023, BMW is planning to launch as many as 12 new fully electric models as part of its ambitious electrification strategy. These will include electric variants of existing models, including the iX3 SUV based on the BMW X3 and the BMW i4 based on the 4 Series Gran Coupe. Rumors have also suggested electric versions of the 5 Series and 7 Series are coming. And now it looks like BMW is preparing a fully electric version of the 3 Series to take on the Tesla Model 3.
BMW hasn't officially announced an electric 3 Series yet, but our spies have caught a camouflaged 3 Series wearing some "Electric Test Vehicle" stickers, suggesting that development of said vehicle is well underway.
Chances are it will be called the BMW i3, but nothing is official yet. The lack of exhausts indicates we're looking at a new electric variant. Visually, the BMW i3 prototype retains the same design language as the regular 3 Series, but the front-end is heavily camouflaged to hide the closed grille, which will likely mimic the design of the iX3's grille.
A unique front bumper will also distinguish the i3 from the standard 3 Series, and the rear bumper will also be changed since it won't require any cut-outs for exhaust pipes.
Powertrain details are a mystery, but we know the BMW i4 will be offered with a 60-kWh and 0-kWh batteries. An electric motor will produce around 530 hp in the most powerful variant, enabling the electric sedan to hit 0-62 mph in around four seconds and reach a top speed of over 124 mph.
Curiously, the prototype appears to be a long-wheelbase version, so it could be exclusive for the Chinese market where there's a very high demand for large sedans and electric models. Alternatively, it could be based on the long-wheelbase model to provide more room for the batteries. Since the 3 Series is BMW's best-selling model, a fully electric version will no doubt be very popular and could pose a serious threat to Tesla.