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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

New electric BMW 3 Series spied testing

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BMW is understood to be developing an electric version of the 3 Series to sit alongside the 523bhp i4 EV by 2023 – and an early prototype has been spied testing.

A camouflaged prototype spotted by our photographers is almost identical to the current G20-generation 3 Series, although the addition of mandatory ‘electric test vehicle’ stickers and subtly reshaped front and rear ends reveals that it’s an early test version for a zero-emissions model.

The forthcoming i4 will be BMW’s first electric saloon, and the firm is yet to officially confirm plans for an electric 3 Series. A BMW spokesperson declined to comment on the test pictures but in a statement said: “By 2023, the BMW Group portfolio will include 25 electrified models, and half of those will be fully electric.”

Munich will officially launch its new iX3 electric SUV later this year, with the 4 Series Gran Coupé-based i4 arriving in dealerships in mid-2021.

BMW design chief Domagoj Dukec recently told Autocar that the decision to launch an i4 rather than an electric 3 Series was because “electrification is still at the point where some people doubt if they should go for it or not, and it’s still a little more expensive. So electric cars need more emotion, and we believe an electrified i4 makes more sense than an electric 3 Series.”

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But with sales of electric cars rising rapidly – and costs likely to drop as manufacturers achieve greater economies of scale – it’s likely there could be suffient demand for an electric 3 Series by 2023.

It’s not yet known what powertrain an electric 3 Series would use, but it’s unlikely to share the performance-oriented i4’s 523bhp, four-wheel drive set-up, given the 3 Series’ practical, executive billing. 

More likely is a variation of the as-yet unrevealed powertrain used by the iX3. Although BMW has yet to offer performance and range data for the production variant, the 2018 iX3 concept was said to offer a battery capacity of more than 70kWh, a range of around 250 miles and an electric motor rated at 270bhp.



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