The all-electric BMW i4 will cost drivers 30% less to than a similar internal combustion equivalent, the German car-maker says, but it still expects combustion engine cars will have a place for a long time to come.
In an online event on Wednesday, the German carmaker outlined its upcoming i4 and iX electric cars, which it says are “bookends” for a range of 13 electric vehicles it has planned by 2023.
By 2030, BWM expects 50% of its sales to be electric. In the meantime though, it thinks plug-in hybrids will suit certain customers and it will be selling “burners” – as they are known in Germany – for some time.
“We see a long future for conventional combustion cars, ” said David Ferrufino, project lead for the BMW i4 – a stark contrast to the stance of Volvo which has said it sees “no future” for ICE (internal combustion engine vehicles).
It was also an interesting comment in light of the fact Ferrufino also highlighted how much cheaper its electric cars will be to run than its combustion engine vehicles.
This is also highlighted in this recent article about how buying a Tesla Model 3 slashed one owner’s running costs, and this article about another Tesla owner driving 400,000km on one set of brake pads.
“When you don’t have a combustion engine, you don’t need to change the filters, the oil … and a lot of things,” he said.
He added that BMW is working towards a more modular approach to replacing parts.
“The second point is when you design electric full battery car from start … we are taking more care about the repair cost and after-sale – more efficient, more modular, more easily changed,” he said.
He cited a report by ADAC (Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club; General German Automobile Club) on BMW’s “first phase” i3 which found that after 5 years of ownership and 75,000km. the BMW i3 is 20% cheaper to own than a comparable combustion engine car.
“That includes everything including maintenance, depreciation, insurance, tax and incentives,” he said.
“Our aim with i4 is a similar figure – it shows how much cheaper owning an electric car compared to a combustion engine car.”
That said, these are vehicles that are aimed at the high end of the auto market, in keeping with BMW’s “driving pleasure” mantra.
A question of when we might see a 1 series electric car was met with pursed lips and silence from BMW’s Johann Kistler, Head of Project iX. It would seem that its “phase two” of electrification will step away from, rather than towards, its BMW i3.
In Australia the i4’s cheapest variant, the eDrive40 will start at a cool $99,900 before on-roads. The iX will set drivers back $135,900 before on-roads, placing it in competition with the likes of the Tesla Model S, the Mercedes-Benz EQC and the Audi e-Tron.
The only real competitors to the i4 are the Tesla Model 3 and the Polestar 2 as far as Ferrufino is concerned.
“The i4 is an emotional car with sporty proportions, expressive design and electric driving dynamics,” he said.
Sitting between the i4 and the iX bookends will be an iX M60 and an all-electric 7 series. This promises to be a powerful machine; specs were mentioned but are sadly under embargo.
As for the iX M60, which will join the i4 M50: “The i sub-brand stands for high innovative electrification, and the M sub-brand stands for true M performance and more agility and more emotions,” said Ferrufino. “i plus M add up to a whole new level of driving pleasure.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.