BMW 3 series long wheelbase gets electric i3 variant

Published On Dec 10, 2021 01:57:00 PM

The i3 moniker will continue on a long wheelbase 3-series-based electric sedan as the eight-year-old i3 hatchback will come to the end of its lifecycle in 2022.

BMW’s plans for an electric-powered version of the current 3-Series have been laid bare in a registry filing made public by the Chinese Ministry for Information and Industry Technology (MIIT) on Thursday. The latest in a growing number of zero-emission BMW models will be marketed under the name i3 eDrive35L, according to information obtained by our sister publication Autocar UK, with sales set to be reserved exclusively for the Chinese market for now. 

  • New BMW i3 is based on 3-series long wheelbase sedan 
  • Powered by front-mounted electric motor with 340hp; rear-wheel drive set-up
  • Performance figures yet to be revealed; top-speed limited to 200kph

BMW i3 eDrive35L: underpinnings

The BMW i3 electric sedan is based on an upcoming facelifted version of the Chinese-market long-wheelbase 3-Series, which is 163mm longer than the existing standard-wheelbase 3-Series, at 4872mm. At 2966mm, its wheelbase is also 115mm longer than the standard 3-Series’.  

The i3 electric sedan seen in these pictures has nothing in common with the existing i3 electric hatchback that’s available globally. BMW’s decision to use the i3 name for the electric version of the long-wheelbase 3-Series comes after officials suggested that the existing i3 hatchback will cease production in 2022. The i3 also goes in-line with BMW’s electric vehicle nomenclature that also has the BMW i4, which is based on the four-series Gran Coupe. 

BMW i3 eDrive35L: powertrain and performance

The rear-wheel-drive i3 eDrive35L shares a large part of its driveline architecture and suspension with the recently unveiled i4, including its front-mounted electric motor. The synchronous unit is claimed to deliver up to 340hp and 430Nm of torque, numbers which are identical to the i4.

In line with Chinese automotive production regulations, the new model is set to receive a Chinese-produced battery. As with the unit used by the iX3, the lithium-manganese-cobalt unit is set to feature cells supplied by Chinese battery specialist CATL. 

Performance figures have yet to be revealed, although information contained in the MIIT registry filing suggests the 2,029kg i3 eDrive35L will be limited to a top speed of 200kph. To cope with the added weight of packaging the battery within the floorpan of the 3-Series’ CLAR platform, the Chinese-market model will also get standard-fit air suspension with similar geometry to that of the i4.

BMW i3 eDrive35L: design updates

Among the stylistic changes distinguishing the i3 eDrive35L from China’s current long-wheelbase 3-Series is a new-look front end that features a uniquely styled bumper, newly shaped headlights and a blanked-off kidney grille.

At the rear, it receives a redesigned valance panel in the lower part of the bumper, which features blue highlights similar to those offered as part of a styling package on the iX3. The wheels – 18-inch as standard and 19-inch as an option – feature a new aerodynamically optimised design. They are planned to be fitted with 225/50 and 225/45 tyres respectively.

There are no images of the interior of the i3 electric sedan yet, although it could have some commonality with the i4, including the curved, twin-screen dashboard layout.

BMW i3 eDrive35L: sales and production

Sources tell us that the i3 electric sedan will be a China-only model for now, although Autocar UK understands BMW is developing a more advanced electric midsized sedan based on its new Neue Klasse electric vehicle platform. Set for launch in 2025, it will form an integral part of the eighth-generation 3-Series line-up.

The new i3 electric sedan is set to enter production in the second half of 2022 alongside the iX3 at a joint-venture factory operated by BMW and Brilliance Automotive in Dadong in the province of Shenyang.

Upcoming BMW EV SUVs, car launches in India

The German carmaker has just announced an aggressive EV strategy for India with three new electric vehicles set for launch in the next six months. BMW may have arrived late to the EV scene in India, but is now looking to make up some ground to the likes of Audi, Mercedes and Jaguar.

The first of these electric vehicles will be the iX electric SUV that’s slated for a launch on December 13. It’s based on a bespoke EV-only architecture and serves as the flagship model in BMW’s electric vehicle line-up. The second electric model from the BMW Group will be the Mini Cooper SE, set for a launch around February-March 2022. BMW also recently confirmed the launch of the aforementioned i4 electric sedan. It is expected to be launched in our market by June 2022.

Do you think the i3 electric sedan will be a good alternative to the conventional BMW 3-Series, if launched in India? Let us know in the comments below. 

Also See:

BMW confirms i7 luxury electric sedan; releases test photos

BMW M to celebrate 50th anniversary with historic logo and colours

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