A decision will have to be made soon.
One of the main reasons why soon to be former BMW CEO Harald Krueger is out of the job is due to his inability to further capitalize on the i3. Launched back in 2013, the i3 was one of the first mainstream electric vehicles. Designed to be an EV from the get-go, the i3 was intended to only be the start of BMW’s advance towards electrification. While the i8 was an expensive plug-in hybrid sports car, the i3 was aimed at mainstream buyers with its more affordable price tag. While not perfect, the i3 was an excellent start thanks to the vision of Krueger’s predecessor, Dr. Norbert Reithofer.
By the time Krueger began taking future EV development more seriously, BMW had lost its momentum. And now, according to Auto Express, BMW will soon decide whether an all-new, second-generation i3 will happen, or discontinue it entirely.
"It is difficult to say if the i3 will have a straight successor as it [electrification] goes more into the mainstream like the upcoming iX3,” said Pieter Nota, a BMW management board member. "The i3 had a pioneering role - it was at the very beginning of BMW’s electrification plans but what we are seeing now is that electrification is moving more into the mainstream.”
On the one hand, the i3’s funky design worked just fine at the time of launch, but today, thanks in large part to Tesla, EVs no longer have offbeat styling. Despite its success with the Bolt, Chevrolet has since realized a more conventional design probably would have been the better choice. Even the second generation Nissan Leaf looks more conventional than its predecessor.
Okay, so why not have a second-gen i3 with a more mainstream appearance? The fact of the matter is that the i3 may soon no longer be necessary. The i4 sedan, a direct competitor to the Tesla Model S, is due in 2021. BMW has also committed to launching 25 new electrified vehicles – half of them being fully electric – by 2025. The iX3 SUV, basically a fully electric version of the X3, is coming next year. Why continue with the i3 hatchback when an EV sedan and SUV are on the way? The business case may simply not be there any longer.