Quad-Motor BMW M EV Prototype About To Begin Testing

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Our spy photographers have caught BMW M's first all-electric car preparing to begin road testing.

For the first time, our spy photographers have captured images of the BMW M EV test vehicle as it prepares to begin development. The as-yet-unnamed prototype is based on a BMW i4 electric sedan but with a lot more menace. The added aggression in the styling is there to signal that this electric sports car will be something that BMW's famed M division can be truly proud of, as BMW CEO Frank van Meel previously said that even if something as special as the M3 goes electric, "you should always be able to drive our cars and know they are M cars."

The lessons that BMW learns from this development vehicle will inform the future of electric M cars, which will need to be engaging if they are to satisfy hardcore M fans. We'll unpack the powertrain and its potential momentarily, but first, let's take a closer look at the styling.

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Like the i4 M50, the M EV test car is wearing M-style mirror caps, but here, the EV is made sportier with a totally new bumper and kidney grilles clearly adapted from those on the limited-edition M4 CSL. A badge on the one grille suggests that BMW has a name for this car, but we're not yet allowed to know what it is.

The hood has been adapted to match, too, while the bulging front fenders are accented with the M division's typical faux vents. Moving back, the rear arches have also swelled, with this necessitating slightly more bulbous rocker panels. However, the trunk, taillights, and rear bumper don't appear much different than those of the regular i4 M50. Remember, this is just a development vehicle (for now) and does not necessarily preview what a production-bound M-developed EV will look like.

Basically, BMW has given it enough distinction and sportiness to draw attention but not too much to unreasonably increase costs. But let's get onto the juicy stuff.

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Curiously, the rear wheels are smaller than the fronts, and an entirely different design with higher-profile rubber, too, likely to provide a little more grip on the rear axle. Behind the larger front items, the gold-colored brake calipers (denoting carbon-ceramic brakes) are certainly necessary. The experimental vehicle features four motors (one per wheel) that can produce up to a megawatt of power, which is 1,000 kW, or 1,341 horsepower. Delicious. Of course, BMW understands that one cannot simply add power to compensate for poor handling.

BMW says that power from the electric motors can be fed so precisely that the "load demand signaled via the accelerator pedal can be realized at a level of dynamics that is unattainable using conventional drive systems." BMW has even suggested that a four-wheel standing donut is possible.

BMW M sees no alternative to EV power, so while we're disappointed that it's happening, we can be confident that BMW will do all it can to turn electric cars into objects of desire for true enthusiasts.

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