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Spied: BMW's i4 electric sedan caught in the wild

by Byron Hurd

The BMW i4 will be Bavaria's answer to the Tesla Model 3.

The mainstream luxury brands may be playing catch-up in the EV arena, but we're starting to see concrete signs of their commitment to electrification. This BMW i4 test vehicle spotted on a transport in Germany is a sneak peek at the future of premium electric cars. 

Aimed directly at Tesla's Model 3 sedan, the BMW i4 will diverge from the unconventional styling of the company's other "i" models (the BMW i3 and BMW i8), instead going with a design intended to slot inconspicuously into the rest of the company's sedan lineup. 

 This example is very clearly in the early stages of rolling development. Between the obvious camouflage and extensive application of improvised body cladding, BMW's test engineers have managed to obscure virtually all of the details of the i4's styling, but the big-picture themes are readily apparent. 

The i4 will be essentially the same size as a 3 Series but will eschew the sedan's trunk for a rear liftgate a la the Gran Turismo. Underneath, it will ride on BMW's modular Cluster Architecture (CLAR) which is capable of underpinning everything from ICE to fully electric vehicles with any number of driven wheels. 

BMW's range target for the i4 is 700 km (more than 430 miles) at the top end, with lower-tier models clocking in around 550 km (~340 miles), which would leapfrog Tesla's Model 3 (350-500 km or 220-310 miles) as it currently sits, though we doubt the premium EV pioneer will be content to rest on its current battery tech for that long. 

The BMW i4 won't be ready for prime time for a couple of years yet. Expect it to show up on the European auto show circuit (if such a thing still exists) in 2021. 

Photos by Chris Doane Automotive.

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