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BMW’s first fully-electric sedan is the i4

Derryn Wong
02/06/2021
BMW i4 M50 high-performance battery electric vehicle (BEV)

BMW i4 fully electric sedan due in Singapore Q1 2022 with 340hp base model and 544hp i4 M50 high-performance version


Photos: BMW

Update:
Marc 2022: The BMW i4 eDrive40 has launched in Singapore, we’ve reviewed it, and found it very efficient.
July 15 2022: The BMW i4 M50 has also launched in Singapore.

Munich, Germany – This car, the BMW i4, makes a lot of firsts: It’s the brand’s first full-production, full battery electric vehicle (BEV) that’s a sedan. It’s also the first BMW i car with M performance, as well as the first model of the new, second-gen 4 Series Gran Coupe. 

The i4 was announced to the press last week and is shown here for the first time in full-production guise with the M50 version, detailed specifications and additional details for the first time. 

BMW i4 eDrive40

There will be two models available: The regular i4 eDrive40 (above), with a 340hp electric motor driving the rear wheels, an 80.7kWh battery pack and a range of ‘up to 590km’.

The second is the BMW i4 M50, with two motors and a combined output of 544hp and 795Nm of torque. It uses the same battery pack for a range of up to 510km. 

The i4 eDrive40 is scheduled for a Singapore debut in Q1 2022, with the i4 M50 still under consideration for now, said BMW Singapore. How much could they cost? In the USA, the i4 eDrive will cost US$55,400, or equivalent to a BMW M340i (US$54,700), which costs around S$350k with COE here.

The i4 M50 costs US$65,900, a little cheaper than a BMW M3 (US$69,900). Given an M3 costs S$462k with COE here, we expect the i4 M50 to go for around S$420-S$430k at current prices.

But where is the new, petrol-powered 4 Series Gran Coupe, you shriek? As of today, it has not been officially unveiled, but it is expected to be very shortly and is scheduled for a launch in Singapore by the end of this year. Speaking of the 4 Series, we’ve already tested the current second-gen G22 4 Series coupe in both agile 420i and storming M4 versions. 

The i4 was first previewed at BMW Group’s annual conference in March this year, and underpins BMW’s new thrust into BEVs and will be sold alongside the BMW iX3 and the new flagship electric SUV, the iX. To find out what BMW has done in the eight years since the groundbreaking i3 BEV and now, read our feature to find out how and why BMW is changing gears on its electrification approach.



What’s our first impression of the i4? We’re excited, especially since it’s a BMW and a sedan and that usually means good things. We’re also a bit tired of BEV SUVs, since the only non-Tesla BEV sedan you can buy in Singapore is a Porsche Taycan.

The i4’s project leader, David Ferrufino, is confident the car can put an exciting new spin on four-door BEVs, telling CarBuyer in a video conference call: “The BMW i4 combines the best of two eras – it has the sporty proportions of a gran coupe, a modern individual fantastic design, exciting driving dynamics, and embodies elegant electrified driving like no other model in its class.” 

We show you how to charge an electric vehicle in Singapore

Electric drive technology, efficiency – and more responsibility

Model BMW i4 eDrive40BMW i4 M50
Power/Torque 340hp / 430Nm544hp / 795Nm
Performance
0-100km/h,
Top speed
5.7s, 190km/h 3.9 seconds, 225km/h
Weight (EU)2125kg 2290kg
Battery80.7kWh net80.7kWh net
Efficiency18kWh/100km avg23.5kWh/100km avg
RangeUp to 590kmUp to 510km 
Charge time

8.5h to 100% at 11kW
31min from 10% to 80%
at 210kW
8.5h to 100% at 11kW
31min from 10% to 80%
at 210kW

The i4 uses BMW’s latest fifth-generation electric drive technology, as noted in our previous story: The first was on the 2013 BMW i3 with 22.6kWh, the second improved energy density with the same housing but an increase to 33kWh in 2016, third iteration in 2018 up to 42.2kWh. The fourth-gen is found in the current-gen BMW PHEV models, such as the X3 xDrive30e, and allow for increased electric-only range of up to 50km, up from 30+km in the previous iteration.

Another day another skateboard

The new electrical system is 400v, and this allows a higher fast charge rate for the i4, 210kW, compared to 150kW for the iX3, and 50kW for the i3. That’s enough to top the car up to the magic fast charge figure of 80 percent in half-an-hour. Like BMW’s current PHEVs and the i3 here, owners will likely have a wallbox included in the purchase price and access to the Greenlots charge network.

It boasts a 20 percent more energy dense battery, compared to the first-gen, and a power density jump of 30 percent (more power for less weight), by the same measure. The battery pack is located in the floor of the vehicle, and it weighs 550kg. BMW kept the battery pack slim thanks to focusing on making it energy dense (more energy for less space) and it’s 11cm tall as a result. 

BMW houses key components in one package: motor (centre), transmission (right) and power electronics (top)

BMW’s motor units incorporate the motor, transmission, and power electronics in a single package, making it look more engine-like than other BEV motors. The new electric motors also have an energy factor of 93 percent, claims BMW, which compare very favourably against the sub-40 percent of most combustion engines. Unlike existing BEVs, they use electrically-excited synchronous motor (ESM) technology. Audi’s E-Tron uses asynchronous motors, while the Porsche Taycan uses permanently-excited synchronous motors.  BMW also says that the motors do not use permanent magnets and so do not require rare earths (compare this to the Porsche Taycan’s motors) as a result. 

Additional responsibility is the byword for BEVs now, and BMW says its supply chain monitoring means “environmental and sustainability standards are observed during the extraction and processing of cobalt and lithium and that there are no violations of human rights.” As mentioned above, the new motors also avoid the use of rare earths (such as neodymium). BMW also says up to 90 percent of the battery pack can be recycled, including the cells themselves, and they come with an eight-year 160k km warranty. 

BMW’s electrification approach looks broadly similar to Audi and Mercedes-Benz’s – a single battery pack with the same capacity used for both models, while the higher-performance model takes a small hit to range. Audi’s two E-Tron GT models use the same tack, for example, with a 85.7kWh pack. 



Continue to page 2: How BMW turned battery weight into better driving

Pages: 1 2

Tags:

4 series 4 series gran coupe BEV bmw electric electric vehicle sports car

About the Author

Derryn Wong

CarBuyer's chief editor brings 15 years of experience in automotive journalism. Previously, he was the editor for Top Gear Singapore, and a presenter for CNA's Cruise Control motoring segment. He's contributed to The Business Times, Today, and many other publications, and also covered technology as editor of Stuff magazine. An avid motorcyclist and photographer, he is the Chief Slave of two cats. Follow him on Instagram @werryndong

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