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BMW development boss calls i3 ‘an outsider,’ says its successor will not be as polarizing in design

We are one year removed from the end of production of the BMW i3. While its makers look to inevitably introduce a successor to the affordable compact EV, don’t expect anything as radical looking. As BMW looks toward its “Neue Klasse” chapter in electrification, a development boss for the company says anything remotely resembling the i3 has no place in the brand’s future.

Whether you love it or despise it, the i3 will forever be known as BMW’s first mass-produced, fully-electric model that one could argue, kicked off the brand’s current journey into its Neue Klasse of EV architecure (concepts seen below).

The i3 launched as a 2013 model during a time where the EV segment was dominated by Teslas and Nissan LEAFs. During its nine year production run, over 250,000 i3s were sold around the world, met by some as an innovative, zero-emissions hatchback and by others as a bastard child in BMW’s large family tree of sleek, premium, traditional design.

One member of BMW’s Board of Management for Development appears to side a bit with the latter group of BMW purists… or at the very least, can empathize with their disdain for the boxy design of the EV that started it all.

As BMW looks toward an all-electric future, we are being assured that the automaker’s next affordable, compact EV will not stray as far from the design language its fanbase appears to be gripping onto like a security blanket.

BMW-Vision-Neue-Klasse
BMW Vision Neue Klasse (Source: BMW)

BMW’s next-generation “Neue Klasse” architecture, inspired by the concepts above, is expected to hit the market in 2025 as a new neue wave of vehicles are expected to go further and charge faster.

But what about a successor to the i3? BMW already launched a new i3 in China, but it’s based off the 3 Series, not the polarizing hatchback. According to a recent interview with Automobilwoche, member of the board of management for development, Frank Weber said BMW will need to deliver a consumer-friendly EV model to replace the i3… but don’t expect it to look like its predecessor at all:

A lot of people liked it, but in the eyes of others the i3 was not a real BMW. A bit of an outsider in the classroom if you will. We will not repeat that in this form.

BMW definitely needs to bring to market an affordable, compact car. We attach great importance to offering customers the best possible access to the BMW brand. That is why we are thinking very carefully about how an entry offering can be part of the Neue Klasse family.

To begin, BMW’s Neue Klasse will introduce a midsize sedan and an SUV on its new EV architecture, so don’t expect an i3 successor anytime before 2026. However, Weber did share that there are plans beyond those first two models. Perhaps we see a new i3 then. Per the interview:

Within the first two years, we will then expand the Neue Klasse by four more vehicles. You can easily imagine that a lot can be created from the middle downward to smaller vehicles as well as upward to larger vehicles.

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