BMW 520e

An electric version of BMW’s 5 Series – likely to be labelled the ‘i5’ – is set to arrive next year as part of the Bavarian brand’s electric expansion.

Speaking during the company’s Q1 earnings conference call, BMW chairman Oliver Zipse explained that, following immediate interest from customer for its all-electric models – most notably the i4 coupe, the iX SUV and the recently launched i7 – one of the brand’s “highest-volume models in the premium compact class” will also receive an all-electric counterpart next year.

Oliver Zipse, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG

Oliver Zipse, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG

“Never before in the history of our company have our pre-orders been higher than they are today,” Mr Zipse explains. “The markets signal that this high demand will continue. Our order books are full several months out – especially for our fully-electric vehicles… Next year, we will be electrifying another core BMW-brand product: the 5 Series.

“This year, we will already have eight fully-electric models on the roads, with plenty more ready to go. Including pre-production vehicles, we will be building 15 fully-electric models this year. This will give us a pure-electric option in about 90 percent of our segments.”

Though no further details regarding the sure-to-be-named ‘i5’ were given, it’s likely the 5 Series’ EV will be built on the same platform as its new ‘G60’ ICE counterpart, in much the same way the i4 shares its underpinnings with the 4 Series.

BMW iX and i4 / BMW

BMW iX and i4 / BMW

From 2025 onwards however, focus will shift to BMW’s ‘Neue Klasse’ architecture, a more flexible platform – whose name derives from the 1961 forebear to the 5 Series – dedicated exclusively to electric vehicles. BMW has already confirmed that Neue Klasse will form the basis of the next generation, all-electric 3 Series, scheduled to launch in 2025. Initial production of the Neue Klasse will take place at BMW’s recently-opened ‘iFactory’ in Debrecen, Hungary, with half of the raw materials used in the build fully recyclable.

Alongside sales of the i4 and iX (both of which were presented last year) and the i7 (due to hit dealerships across Europe in November), the Neue Klasse is expected to be a fulcrum for the brand’s ambitious electrification targets

“We aim to break through the sound barrier of a total of two million all-electric vehicles sold overall by 2025. By 2030, at least half our global deliveries should come from BEVs.”

Significantly, the Neue Klasse, will also feature the latest Gen6 drivetrain, set to produce “more output” thanks to its heavily-developed “new cell chemistry and new cell formats.” The announcement of just one drivetrain suggest the modular platform will underpin multiple different sectors in a move that will help keep both production and development costs down.

As a pseudo-preview to the Neue Klasse model, Mr Zipse also stated that a long wheelbase version of the fully-electric 3 Series has been developed exclusively for the Chinese market, which, alongside a long-wheel version of the X5, will be produced locally in China.

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