Tesla has pretty much had the high-end electric vehicle market to itself for several years now, but it looks like some competition is on the horizon.
There’s a new addition to the hybrid/electric BMW i series. The iconic German carmaker has leaked some details about the upcoming i5 sedan. According to reports from Automotive News and AutoBild, the new i car is be based on the 5-series sedan, features a plug-in hybrid powertrain and is expected to launch by 2018.
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Auto Week notes that we’ve known an i5 has been in the works for a while now, but this new information suggests that BMW has shifted gears in its thinking about the vehicle. Up until now, the i5 had been rumored to be a larger i3, or even a hatchback. That seems to have changed as BMW’s 7-series started losing more and more sales to the Tesla Motors Model S.
Details on BMW’s Tesla rival i5
Based on the latest information, the i5 is going to be somewhat less cutting-edge than BMW’s other i offerings. Both the all-electric i3 city car and the i8 sports car are constructed with the newest carbon fiber chassis/passenger cabin structure. The i5 will be a conventional four-door developed from a longer-wheelbase 5-series designed for the Chinese market
However, the new vehicle will certainly include composite construction. BMW will want to use its weight-cutting “carbon core” technology in all the i series models.
According to AutoBild, the i5’s hybrid powertrain will feature a gas engine and two electric motors. The set up is rated for a 65-mile electric-only range. Given these specs are quite similar to a 5-series GT plug-in concept vehicle that BMW showed off at several auto shows last year, this speculation seems quite plausible.
It was also suggested that the new high-end hybrid would retail for close 100,000 euros, around $110,000 at today’s exchange rates, but nothing is set in stone at this stage of the game.