The BMW i3 electric hatch is on its way out (it’s already been dropped in the U.S.), but its nameplate will live on by being utilized by an electric version of the 3-Series.
Prototypes for the electric 3-Series have been spotted for over a year and now the car has been revealed as an i3 via the website of China’s intellectual property office (via Motor1). An official reveal should take place early next year.
Photos posted to the Chinese government website show a long-wheelbase i3 L. Telltale signs we’re looking at an electric model are a sealed-off grille and missing exhaust pipes.
Some specs have been published alongside the photos, including a curb weight of 4,473 pounds, a peak output of 335 hp, and a top speed of 112 mph.
2023 BMW i3 leak – Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of the People’s Republic of China
These numbers correspond with the specs of the related 2022 BMW i4 eDrive40 due on sale in the U.S. early next year.
The long-wheelbase i3 L is a Chinese-market exclusive. It’s production is being handled by BMW’s joint venture with local automaker Brilliance Automotive. A standard-wheelbase i3 is yet to be confirmed for U.S. sale. If given the green light, we should see it arrive next year as part of an updated 2023 3-Series range.
With electric vehicles destined to become the dominant vehicle type in developed markets, BMW is abandoning its previous plan of launching standalone EVs like the i3 and upcoming 2022 iX. Instead, the automaker is adding electric powertrains to core models. The first of these was the iX3 based on the X3 that BMW is selling outside the U.S. We’ve also got the 4-Series-based i4 coming, and there are also electric versions of the next-generation X1, 5-Series and 7-Series all being developed.
The BMW Group, which also includes the Mini and Rolls-Royce brands, plans to have at least 13 EVs on offer by 2023.