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According to a report by Auto Express, BMW plans to introduce a fully-electric version of the third-generation 1 Series. BMW i division boss Rovert Irlinger told the publication that the model could arrive as early as 2021, although further details weren’t disclosed.
The German carmaker previously revealed that it planned to step up its electrification efforts by rolling out 25 electrified models by 2023, with 12 fully electric cars and the remainder being plug-in hybrids. As of current, the company has the iX3, i4 and iNEXT in its pipeline.
Currently, the latest 1 Series, which is built on the FAAR (Frontantriebsarchitektur) front-wheel drive platform, is available with a mix of petrol and diesel engines. Due to the flexibility that the platform provides, BMW claim to be able to develop electric powertrains for it without much of a hassle.
“Even in the front-drive architecture you will see fully electrified cars. You will see electrification in our whole portfolio. We can rework our front-wheel-drive as well as the rear-wheel-drive platforms and both are able to show all technologies – our customers have the power of choice. Whatever they demand they can get – a plug-in hybrid X3, a fully-electric 4 Series, too. That’s a big step and a big change in our strategy” said Irlinger.
Based on this input, BMW will be able to offer an all-electric version of the hatchback fitted with a single motor as a more affordable front-wheel drive model, or all-wheel drive with the addition of a secondary motor. Design-wise, the EV will look similar to ICE-powered variants, but with a few unique touches to mark it out as a BMW i car such as a blanked-off front grille, dedicated badging and brighter colour palette.
With the i4 and iX3 already confirmed, it is likely that BMW will adopt the same naming strategy for the 1 Series EV, possibly calling the model the i1. If BMW does indeed proceed with this plan, it’d be interesting to see what happens when BMW decides to introduce a fully-electric version of the 3 Series, as calling it the i3 would clash with the model that started the BMW i brand in the first place.
Then again, there’s no guarantee that the i3 will be renewed for another generation, and with Irlinger saying, “we are not in the normal process of having a car that has to have a successor,” there could be an open slot for a 3 Series EV.