A European trademark filing has spilled the beans.
The BMW M3 will someday go electric, and thanks to a trademark application made at the European Union Intellectual Property Office (and another identical application at the German Patent and Trade Mark Office), we can now confirm what that car's name is likely to be: iM3.
If you think that BMW will never dilute the M3 name, remember that this is the brand that created the M4 when the name M3 Coupe worked just fine. On that note, we expect to come across a trademark for the name iM4 at some point.
But why choose a new name if an EV is taking over from the combustion-powered M3? Because, in a nutshell, it's not. At least, not yet.
The most recent reports suggest that the electric M3 will coexist alongside the combustion version. According to BMW's chief of product development, Frank Weber, "there will be co-existence of the solution in the market, which is necessary." BMW M boss Frank van Meel has made similar comments.
Essentially, this means that the M3 has no choice but to go electric if it wants to continue existing in certain markets, but in others, legislative action has not yet been taken to outlaw combustion cars. Therefore, offering an EV with the traditional M3 name in one market and a combustion car with the same name in others would be confusing.
Moreover, some markets will surely experience overlap and offer both models at the same time, so an EV-specific name makes sense.
However, the filing of this trademark does not indicate that the electric M3, or iM3 as we should start calling it, will be launched any time soon. BMW has said on several occasions that it will not produce an electric M3 if it's not better than the current one, meaning that it must drive like a traditional M car.
Four-figure horsepower outputs will be part of the iM3's repertoire, but what will matter is how it uses that performance. Thanks to very precise torque vectoring using a patented electric differential, BMW M hopes to overcome the issues inherent to an EV, including the compromised handling that comes with such substantial weight.
BMW has already proven with the current G80 M3 that a lot of weight need not mean a dull driving tool, and we hope that it can pull off the same trick when the iM3 eventually arrives.