BMW 3 Series Electric launch confirmed for 2022 [Update]

Following the i4 and the iX, BMW Group plans to introduce the BMW 3 Series Electric, a top-level company official has confirmed. Take a look at what we know so far about Bavaria’s first pure-electric sedan.

Jochen Goller talks about the BMW 3 Series electric

“At the moment, in the BEV area, others have more product, and especially Tesla’s share is stronger,” Jochen Goller, President & CEO, BMW Group Region China, said at BMW Group Analyst and Investor Day 2021.

“But we are now ramping up, we’ve got cars in all the volume segments. Let’s not forget next year 3 Series, 7 Series, and so on, so forth,” he said, confirming that an all-electric 3 Series is in the pipeline. “And on top of that I think for the next 5 or 6 years we will see a very sizable sales in the ICE which we make good margin and this is a transition which we have to manage but because we play in both fields, and we will manage it, he concluded.

Goller said customers view the conversion of ICE vehicles to BEVs (multi-energy platforms) differently than experts. “This purpose-built conversion topic in my opinion is nothing which the customer really discusses. The customer is discussing the design, the brand, and the connectivity and the powertrain,” he opined.

Design & Interior

BMW 3 Series Electric front three quarters spy shot
The BMW 3 Series Electric will borrow the design elements of the 3 Series facelift (LCI). Image Source: autohome.com.cn

Late last year, Motor.es provided information on the BMW 3 Series Electric, which is initially going to Chinese BMW showrooms. The Spanish website reported that BMW is developing the 3 Series Electric based on the long-wheelbase 3 Series (3 Series Li) specification. The 3 Series Electric is due around the time of the 3 Series facelift, and BMW will likely use the new design on the EV variant as well. Spy shots of test prototypes from China indicate a similar design direction for the electric 3er.

The headlamps have inverted signature lights, and they don’t feature a cut in the bottom edge like the headlamps of the 2021 3 Series. The grille appears to have upright borders, while the lower grille (likely of the M Sport variant) is sharper and in a proper hexagonal shape. On the basis of these leaked design changes of the 2022 3 Series facelift, Nicolás Cavero (Instagram: futurecarsnow) has worked on a realistic rendering (below) of the 3 Series electric.

New BMW 3 Series electric (BMW i3) rendering
The first-ever 3 Series electric (BMW i3 sedan) will inherit the aggressive fascia of the incoming 3 Series facelift, as represented by this render. Image: Instagram/futurecarsnow

The Tesla Model 3 adversary may have a special underbody protector that improves aerodynamics.

M Sport that exudes aggression

The BMW 3 Series Electric or BMW i3 Sedan range will likely include an M Sport variant for customers who don’t want to compromise style for eco-friendliness. The imaginary rendering, set as the featured image, courtesy of digital artist Shkelqim (Instagram/bmw43__), previews the BMW 3 Series Electric M Sport. It has exclusive features like headlights with smoked glass, gloss black outer surround for the blanked-off kidney grille, sportier bumper with larger air intakes, gloss black window surrounds, and funky alloy wheels similar to the 1020 style Bi-colour air performance alloy wheels of the BMW iX.

BMW 3 Series Electric or BMW i3 Sedan render
Rendering of an M Sport variant of the BMW i3 sedan (3 Series EV) by reader Shkelqim Ameti. It is unlikely that BMW would sell the 3 Series electric in large volumes outside the Chinese market in this generation.

The new 3 Series electric will have some model-specific visual differences from the new 3 Series on the inside, too. These should include blue accents on the start/stop button and the gear selector lever, the BMW i logo on the door sill plates, and model lettering on the floor console. Ambient lighting, which could be a standard-fitment, may provide BMW i Blue illumination by default.

iDrive 8

Recently BMW started testing early prototypes of the new 3 Series facelift, and spy pictures suggest that it could offer the new iDrive 8 driver-passenger vehicle interface in the new model. The company may transfer the same technology to the first-ever BMW 3 Series electric.

2022 BMW X3 facelift 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system
BMW debuted its new 12.3-inch touchscreen system in the new X3 facelift. Image: BMW

The new iDrive 8 system has a wide curved display, which in its debut model iX, groups together a 12.3-inch fully digital instrument cluster and a 14.9-inch touchscreen. A new design language with catchy graphics and other modern attractions gives an immersive visual experience in the new iDrive 8 system. The voice assistant of the new system offers natural dialogue, and it can be given any desired name, which makes the whole experience even more humanly. 5G mobile network connectivity and BMW Digital Key Plus (Digital Key 3.0) support are two more highlights of iDrive 8.

Range & other specifications

Rear-wheel drive

Motor.es reports that the BMW 3 Series electric will have its battery positioned between the axles, and propelled by a rear electric motor. It says that a version “i330e” will be offered, with a maximum power output of 190 kW, equivalent to 258 hp, and rear-wheel drive. The German brand will introduce an improved battery, going from the previous 60 kWh to a net capacity of 74 kWh, to take the range towards 500 kilometers (NEDC).

Charging time

Expect to see charging specifications that are identical to the iX3. Through an 11 kW AC charger, it takes 7.5 hours to fully charge the SUV. The 3 Series EV should support a 150 kW DC charger, where it would be possible to quick-charge to 80% SoC in about 35 minutes.

Release Date

A scoop post from g80.bimmerpost.com forum member yunguldyn states that the production of the BMW 3 Series electric will start in March 2022, whereas a report from autohome.com.cn, said that the ‘BMW i3 L’ would debut in the second half of 2022. It is likely the BMW may not make the 3 Series EV available on a global scale.

Production

BMW Brilliance, the joint venture between the BMW Group and Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd, started constructing a new plant in Tiexi, a district of Shenyang in the Liaoning Province, on 1 April 2020. The extension of the existing plant will ramp up the production to satiate the demand for luxury cars in the world’s largest auto market.

The new Tiexi plant will be built on an overall area of 2.9 sq. km. and will have a new press shop, body shop, paint shop, assembly shop, and external infrastructure, apart from additional space for production expansion if required. The new plant will be ready for serial production in 2022 and will utilize BMW’s flexible manufacturing to make fully-electric and plug-in hybrid models, including the electric variants of BMW 3 Series and BMW 5 Series (BMW i5), as per Chinese news reports.

Brilliance BMW Teixi plant electric cars extension
The BBA Tiexi factory will likely roll out the BMW 3 Series electric from 2022. Image Source: BMW Group

The upcoming plant in Tiexi will be the largest project undertaken by BMW Brilliance and is located bordering the Hun River. Factors such as environmental and resource conservation are considered since the company started preparing the land for construction. Working with the district government, BMW Brilliance’s construction team has come up with an environmental governance plan to enhance the overall natural environment of the Hun River. The new production centre blends BMW’s Industry 4.0 and intelligent manufacturing of China to boost the local economy and auto industry development.

BMW Electric Vehicle business strategy

BMW Group EV roadmap May 2021
BMW’s electrification roadmap as shared in an official presentation in May 2021. Image Source: BMW Group

BMW Group has announced that it plans to launch 25 electrified by 2023, 13 of them pure-electrics. Following the iX3 last year, Munich has confirmed the BMW iX SUV and the i4 launch this year. The electric 3 Series, 7 Series, X1, and 5 Series follow as the next step in the firm’s ‘Power of Choice’ strategy.

The company sees itself becoming a strong player in China with the expanded EV line-up, Goller indicated at the BMW Group Analyst and Investor Day 2021. He said:

With our internal planning we’re very confident that we’re well beyond what we need to do, and as also communicated yesterday, we’re talking about 13 BEVs by 2023. We will localise all of our BEVs in the key volume segments. And so, I would say we are in a pretty strong position there.

Jochen Goller, President & CEO, BMW Group Region China (BMW Group Analyst and Investor Day 2021)

In total, BMW Group plans to have 12 BEVs in its lineup by 2023 covering 90% of the segments with at least one zero-emissions car.

Featured Image: The BMW 3 Series Electric (BMW i3 Sedan) rendering by Instagram/bmw43__