BMW Says No Successor Planned for I3 Hatchback

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
bmw says no successor planned for i3 hatchback

BMW’s i3 has reached the end of its road. The manufacturer recently stated that the model will not be updated, adding that there’s no plan for a successor. Despite the oddball Bimmer serving as the technological basis for the Mini Electric slated to launch next year, the i3 is going to stick around in its current form until the company has no further use for it.

Released in 2013, the i3 was Bavaria’s first stab at a mass-market EV. While this author sees them routinely parked in coastal cities, they’re an anomaly elsewhere. Overt success has eluded the model in the United States, with annual sales dropping from a high of 11,024 units in 2015 to just 6,117 deliveries in 2018. This year’s U.S. sales look to be even weaker for the model.

Fortunately for BMW Group, European sales have been on the rise every year since the car’s introduction. Last year, that resulted in 24,252 deliveries for the region — with 2019 already positioned to surpass that figure easily.

With numbers like that, it’s easy to see why the manufacturer is having difficulties deciding what to do with the EV. The model isn’t a hit but, as far as EVs are concerned, it’s not exactly a failure. “There’s no specific plan for an i3 successor,” Pieter Nota, BMW’s sales and marketing chief, told the Financial Times in a recent interview. “We are now bringing electrification more to the mainstream.”

The current strategy involves keeping the i3 around, unchanged, for the next few years while BMW works toward finishing new EVs and adding more plug-in options to its current lineup. It also likely doesn’t want to spent a lot of time and money developing a new version of vehicle that would likely usurp sales from the upcoming Mini Electric.

From FT:

BMW is installing plug-in hybrid technology into its best-selling models, which allows them to drive using electric power in cities and conventionally on longer journeys.

The carmaker also plans 13 battery-only models by 2023, a timeframe that was recently brought forward because of impending emissions targets.

At the Frankfurt Motor Show last week the company unveiled the design for an electric car coming out in 2021, as well as showing the electric Mini that will go on sale next year.

Currently in its fifth iteration, BMW has sold more than 150,000 i3 cars to date, with higher demand every year, as the nascent market for electric vehicles blossomed.

While numerous claims state that the design theory used by BMW on the i3 and i8 will also be abandoned on future, the company’s Vision iNEXT (above) concept continues to appear at automotive trade shows wearing similar black body panels and blue accenting. We even saw the concept at the Frankfurt Auto Show this month. That doesn’t mean BMW intends on keeping the design as is, especially considering its highly unconventional interior. But it does suggest that the company isn’t nixing the funky i-design theory in its entirety.

Subsequent prototypes and concept vehicles for future EVs also showcase similar design cues, albeit in a much subtler format. Teasers for the electrified 2021 i4 sedan and 2020 iX3 (below) crossover previewed both vehicles with only minor black and blue accenting along the side sills and rear bumper.

[Images: BMW]

Join the conversation
4 of 27 comments
  • Jaffa68 Jaffa68 on Sep 17, 2019

    Good, it was styled so it didn't appeal to anyone who cared how their car looks to ensure it did not cannibalise sales of more profitable BMW's. As a test-bed its time is over. However, I do like the series-hybrid format that was available with the i3, I like the idea of only having enough (very expensive and heavy) batteries for my 80-miles per day commute with an ICE to kick-in (always running at it's most efficient load/speed) to keep the batteries topped up for a long drive and/or to warm the cabin in very cold weather. Rather than carrying a huge battery that I rarely use but still isn't enough for occasional long-distance travel. I think the series-hybrid format could give greatly reduced emissions without the range anxiety, unlike a parallel-hybrid it eliminates the transmission and since the sustained load on an engine is only a fraction of the maximum the ICE can be quite modest in size.

  • ThomasSchiffer ThomasSchiffer on Sep 17, 2019

    The only wonderful thing about it was the interior design and the use of recycled materials, which points towards how vehicular cabins will be made in the future using renewable and eco-friendly materials such as cloth instead of leather. Outwards, I have always felt that the i3 was a monstrosity, a jumbled up and mishmash design that made no sense in the context of BMWs specific design language. The i8 is not much better.

    • See 1 previous
    • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Sep 17, 2019

      Thomas, how much waste is recycled exactly in your town? E.g. how many recycling bins do you have at home?

  • MaintenanceCosts Where's a gas inline six, for that torque and nice sound without all the diesel stink? Oh, that's right; GM being GM, they prematurely canceled it.
  • FreedMike I nominate the 1980 Thunderbird as the worst malaise car ever. My brother got one used and promptly totaled it out. In retrospect, that was a mercy killing.
  • Vulpine Regretfully, rather boring. Nothing truly unique, though the M715 is a real eye-grabber.
  • Parkave231 This counts for the Rare Rides installment on the Fox Cougar and Fox Thunderbird too, right? Don't want to ever have to revisit those......(They should have just called them Monarch/Marquis and Granada/LTD II and everything would have been fine.)
  • DM335 The 1983 Thunderbird and Cougar were introduced later than the rest of the 1983 models. If I recall correctly, the first models arrived in January or February 1983. I'm not sure when they were unveiled, but that would explain why the full-line brochures for Ford and Mercury were missing the Thunderbird and Cougar--at least the first version printed.The 1980 Cougar XR-7 had the same 108.4 inch wheelbase as the 1980 Thunderbird. The Cougar coupe, sedan and wagon had the shorter wheelbase, as did the Ford Granada.