BMW will introduce the electric i4, their first purely electrically powered model for the premium mid-range in 2021. The development of the BMW i4 is part of a comprehensive product offensive by the BMW Group in the field of models with electrified drive. The company currently has the biggest range of all-electric and plug-in hybrid models in this field. By 2023, the BMW Group will have 25 models with electrified drive in its program. For more information see the IDTechEx report on Electric Vehicles 2020-2030.
The electric motor, power electronics, charging unit and high-voltage battery of the BMW i4 have been entirely newly developed. Together they form the BMW eDrive technology of the fifth generation, with which the BMW Group has made further significant advancements in the field of electrified drive. From 2020 onwards, fifth-generation BMW eDrive technology will be introduced first in the BMW iX3 and then in the BMW iNEXT and BMW i4. The electric motor developed for the BMW i4 delivers a maximum output of around 390 kW/530 hp, reaching the level of a V8 engine in current BMW models fitted with a combustion engine.
The fifth generation of BMW eDrive also includes a newly designed high-voltage battery featuring the latest battery cell technology. With a weight of some 550 kilograms, it has an energy content of around 80 kWh. This gives the BMW i4 a range of approximately 600 kilometres. For more information see the IDTechEx report on Lithium-Ion Batteries for Electric Vehicles 2020-2030.
The all-electric BMW i4 will be produced from 2021 onwards and subsequently launched on global markets. The new model will be manufactured at the company's main plant in Munich, where other vehicles produced include the BMW 3 Series Sedan with conventional combustion engine and plug-in hybrid drive, the BMW 3 Series Touring with conventional drive and from summer 2020 also with plug-in hybrid drive, the BMW 4 Series Coupé and the BMW M4 Coupé. The BMW i brand's first Gran Coupé accelerates from zero to 100 km/h in around 4.0 seconds, achieving a top speed of more than 200 km/h.
The BMW Group's expertise in the field of electrified drive systems forms the basis for a scalable modular system whose components can be integrated into different vehicle concepts with great flexibility. Fifth-generation BMW eDrive technology comprises a highly integrated drive system in which the electric motor, transmission and power electronics are accommodated in a single housing. This drive system is compatible with all vehicle concepts and will be available for different models in a range of output levels. The highly integrated design of the system allows a significant increase in power density as well as a reduction in weight and manufacturing effort. Production of future-generation electric motors will no longer require materials categorised as rare earths.
The next generation charging unit can be used in plug-in hybrid models as well as in purely electrically powered vehicles and is designed for a charging capacity of up to 150 kW. This allows the high-voltage battery of the BMW i4 to be charged to around 80 per cent of its full energy content in around 35 minutes. This results in a charging time of around six minutes for a range of 100 kilometres.
With the establishment of the Battery Cell Competence Centre in Munich, the BMW Group has further expanded its research and development expertise in this area, which is crucial to the future of electromobility. The focus is on fundamental research in areas where there is an impact on customer-related factors such as energy density, accessible peak output, service life, safety, charging characteristics, response at different temperatures and manufacturing costs. At the new Battery Cell Competence Centre, research is being conducted in particular into the potential for further optimisation of cell chemistry and cell design. The selection and composition of materials for the anode, cathode, electrolyte and separator as well as the format of the battery cells made of these materials will have a key impact on the quality of high-voltage batteries used in future models with electrified propulsion.
Source and top image: BMW Group