The i3 has been a pretty sweet gig for BMW. Though it doesn't quite inspire the same kind of excitement Teslas seem able to whip up, it remains one of the highest-selling electric cars in many countries, including the USA and Norway. These are both key markets for any EV manufacturer to penetrate, the former for its sheer size, the latter for its high rate of plug-in vehicle adoption, letting it act as a litmus test for electrification in other countries. That the i3 was able to get a foothold in both markets should be seen, at the very least, as a good start.
One area where the i3 has fallen a little short, though, is its all-electric range. Despite a string of revisions over the years that have pushed the numbers up, the current iteration's 160-mile range is still noticeably shorter than many of its competitors'. More than enough for a city car — which, to be fair, is exactly what the i3 is positioned as — but not quite enough to break out as an all-purpose vehicle.
Now, though, BMW is promising that its next round of EVs will be able to put the range issue to bed. The all-electric iX3 — due to launch next year — should have a range of over 400 kilometers (249 miles), and the i4 and iNEXT could both have ranges in excess of 600 km (373 miles) when they launch in 2021. BMW had, however, previously claimed to be targeting 700 km (435 miles) for both vehicles, and with launch date still two years away, there's still time for the numbers to change.
We've already caught a glimpse of the i4, but with development of the iX3, i4 and iNEXT moving along, BMW has released official photos of the trio winter testing in Northern Sweden. The iX3 and i4 don't bring many surprises; both are clearly closely modeled on the existing X3 and 4 Series. The only question mark is whether the kidney grilles will take on a conventional appearance, or the more futuristic style of the iX3 Concept. The iNEXT, on the other hand, is anybody's guess — it could still turn out hideous.
Of the three, the i4 coupe is sure to get the most attention from enthusiasts. It inherits the driver-y reputation of the conventional 4 Series, but the addition of an all-electric drivetrain could make for a more dynamic driving experience. BMW has already said it should be able to reach 60 mph in 4 seconds, but with the company known for being conservative with its acceleration numbers, we might expect it to be even quicker off the line. The top speed of "over 200 km/h" (124 mph) is a step down from the 4 Series, but it probably isn't anything you're going to notice in real-world driving.
While enthusiasts clamor for the i4, the pair of SUVs are likely to prove most popular with the public. For many, an EV with the convenience of an SUV, the performance of a BMW and a decent all-electric range could prove to be the perfect choice. If BMW nails the iX3, and particularly the iNEXT, the company's i division could have a vehicle with the mainstream appeal the i3 never quite had.