Expected arrival: 2018.
It's final name has yet to be decided, but sources are now claiming that BMW is very much developing a Tesla Model S fighter. According to Car Magazine, BMW will launch the i5/i7 by 2018. A concept version could be unveiled this September at the Frankfurt Motor Show. What we're also learning is that it won't be a pure EV. Instead, its drivetrain will be inspired by that of the i8, although with a number of modifications. For starters, the i5/i7 will feature two electric motors, not one like in the i8.
Both will be located in the rear while a small gas-powered range extender will be found up front. Essentially, the car will have the ability, based on the driver's needs, to be electric front-wheel drive, electric rear-wheel drive, or gas all-wheel-drive. Altogether, power output is expected to be around 540 hp and will have an electric range of 80 miles or so. Not surprisingly, the i5/i7 will be on BMW's new Cluster Architecture, also known as CLAR. This is a modular platform that'll soon underpin all models from the 3 to the 7 Series. Basically, it'll share the steering, suspension, and brake components with the new 5 Series but will have a completely different powertrain.
BMW has also decided to make its Tesla fighter a sedan instead of a crossover because its main markets will be the US and China. BMW is moving full speed ahead on this project because 4.5% of all vehicles sold in US CARB states must be zero-emissions vehicles by 2018. The timing here is no coincidence. If an automaker doesn't comply, it could always buy clean-air credits from Tesla. For BMW, that's not an option.