Should we even be surprised?
It didn't take long, but the first electric BMW to wear an M badge is already a smash hit for the German automaker. During an interview with BMW Blog, Frank Weber, BMW board member responsible for development, confirmed that the M Division's best-selling model will soon be all-electric, beating out the X3 M.
"The highest volume M product we will have is the i4 M50," said Weber. The BMW i4 only arrived on the market earlier this year in the US, but customers are already buying it faster than BMW can build it. In fact, wait times can be up to 18 months for the popular EV. "We will increase production even more next year when we expect no bottlenecks or chip shortages," he explained.
The i4's success isn't limited to a single market. It's selling well "across the board," according to Weber. Customers are enamored with the i4 because it looks similar to the gas-powered 4 Series Gran Coupe unlike the iX, which looks distinctly like a futuristic EV. It's not just just about styling either. "From a driving experience also, people are surprised how much the i4 is a BMW," Weber explained.
Whereas the iX feels softer and more detached than other BMW models, the i4 feels similar to its gasoline counterparts, albeit without the sound of an engine. The i4's interior even looks more closely related to BMW's existing cabins.
The i4 M50 is more powerful even than the twin-turbocharged M4, with 536 horsepower and 586 lb-ft of torque delivered from two electric motors. 0-60 mph takes just 3.7 seconds, which is quicker than the rear-wheel-drive M4. It's no wonder why customers are gravitating towards the M50 model, which starts at $65,900 and provides up to 270 miles of range.
BMW's next-generation EVs will push the performance envelope even further. The company's upcoming Neue Klasse architecture can support an electric motor on each wheel, combining to produce over 1,300 horsepower. This platform will also support 800-volt charging, meaning we could see a 30% reduction in charge times compared to the current i4.
To help satisfy the massive demand, BMW will build six Gigafactories (which measure over 495 acres) globally. We have to imagine one of these Gigafactories will be in North America since BMW needs local production to qualify for the new federal tax credit in the US. BMW could shift EV production to its Mexico plant in the short term, but a new Gigafactory in the region could be crucial to the company's future success.
A new battery design will aid BMW in achieving its lofty goals, and it all hinges on the Neue Klasse platform. Until then, the i4 will continue to sell well. But we do feel that calling it the "best-selling M car" is perhaps tenuous, when it's not really a full M product.