New pure-electric BMW 3 Series leaked from Chinese patent office

Undisguised images of the new BMW 3 Series - which could be called i3 - detail the saloon’s styling ahead of its intended launch next year

Images of the upcoming pure-electric BMW 3 Series have been leaked from the Chinese patent office ahead of the EV’s intended launch event in 2022. 

Although it is unclear at this stage whether an electric BMW 3 Series would be a global model sold in places such as the UK and Europe, it could become a new rival for the Tesla Model 3, as well as Citroen’s upcoming flagship C5 X electric saloon. It could adopt the ‘i3’ name from the brand’s electric hatchback (which may not be replaced directly), but this remains to be confirmed. 

BMW originally submitted these undisguised pictures to the Chinese patent office as part of the verification process for the country’s intellectual property register, but they’ve now worked through the government body’s defences and into the public eye.

Cosmetic revisions over the standard 3 Series are fairly minimal. Up front, there’s a blanked- off radiator grille and a new bumper, with similarly narrow side intakes to the iX3 SUV. The rear end has also been tweaked, with the addition of a new diffuser that does away with the standard car’s exhaust outlets.

The electric 3 Series also has slightly deeper side skirts, which help to hide the underfloor battery pack powering the car’s new electric powertrain. And, to eke the maximum amount of range from the system, there’s a set of aerodynamically efficient alloy wheels.

BMW hasn’t yet disclosed what’s powering the electric 3 Series, but we expect it’ll feature the same electric motor and battery pack as the i4 four-door coupe. Both cars are based on BMW’s modular CLAR architecture, so the electric technology from the i4 should just bolt right in.

Currently, the i4 is available with a choice of two powertrain options, called eDrive40 and M50, both of which are powered by the same 81kWh battery pack. The former option uses a 335bhp electric motor mounted on the rear axle, which offers a 0–62mph time of 5.7 seconds and a top speed of 118mph. 

The high-performance i4 M50 gets an extra electric motor on the front axle, which bumps power up to 537bhp and adds four-wheel drive. As a result, the car’s 0–62mph time drops to 3.9 seconds, while top speed increases to 140mph.

In terms of driving range, the eDrive40 variant can cover 367 miles between charges, while the M50 can manage 316 miles. All of these performance and range figures should also be comparable across the i4 and the electric 3 Series on account of their similar sizes and weights.

What do you make of the upcoming all-electric BMW 3 Series? Let us know in the comments section below…

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