BMW M is working on a performance version of the upcoming i4 electric sedan.
M GmbH boss Markus Flasch and his engineers are working on an M Performance version of the upcoming Tesla Model 3 rival, but it won’t be a proper motorsports car like the 2021 M3.
Instead, it will be a faster version of a mainstream model without a track focus, in a similar vein to the M340i xDrive.
“Next year we will launch the first battery-electric M car in the performance segment, based on an i4,” Markus Flasch, BMW M boss, told Australian media.
When it revealed the i4 Concept in March, BMW said the fastest model would hit 100km/h in just four seconds, on its way to a 200km/h top speed. Claimed range is 600km on the tougher WLTP test cycle.
With 390kW from its electric motor, the i4 Concept packs more power than the M3 Competition. But whether that will be the setup used in the M Performance production car isn’t clear.
BMW last year revealed the Power BEV concept, a 5 Series with a 530kW tri-motor powertrain capable of propelling it to 100km/h in “well under” three seconds. It could also point to what we can expect from the high-performance i4.
Although it’s developing M Performance electric vehicles, BMW isn’t ready to do a proper M EV just yet.
“The technology that we’re looking at on the high-performance side will take some more years to come. You can imagine weight will play a significant role in it,” said Markus Flasch.
“Of course, driving dynamically – chassis controlling, powertrain controlling – there are opportunities within electrified powertrains, very much within the control systems.
“This is something that needs further development. If you imagine, today we have an engine and a friction-based brake. If you think about using an electric engine for both directions, and what you can do with multiple engines, then you probably know where we are going.”
As emissions regulations get tighter, the natural question is whether M GmbH will develop hybrid engines keep lawmakers happy. Audi RS is integrating mild hybrid technology into its engines, and the next Mercedes-AMG C63 S will reportedly use a hybrid four-cylinder.
Mr Flasch says his team is “working on hybrids, electrified performance and high-performance cars – but it’s a bit early to disclose which ones it’s going to be”.