"We are still in the strategic research phase where we brainstorm," Klaus Fröhlich, BMW Group development boss, said to Automotive News Europe about the future vehicle. He indicated the next new model to bear the i prefix wouldn't arrive until after 2020. Fröhlich also underscored that the sub-brand's products wouldn't be based on a standard BMW product.
The German brand was at one point rumored to have a model called either the i5 or i7 on the way that would have added a plug-in hybrid drivetrain to the 5 Series. Fröhlich's statement would seem to invalidate that possibility. Although, there's nothing stopping the vehicle from carrying regular BMW branding in the vein of the X5 xDrive40e PHEV.
The current i-badged models won't just stagnate on the market in the meantime, though. "We have a minimum 20 percent battery density improvement every three years, thus over the i3 and i8's life cycle, we will offer more performance, more range or a combination of the two," Fröhlich said to Automotive News Europe. Sadly, current owners won't be able to upgrade to the improved parts, though.
Rumors about a third i sub-brand model go back years with much of the talk swirling around the i5. In addition to the speculation about a 5-Series-based version, there was also supposed to be a stretched variant of the i3 with that name, possibly even with a hydrogen fuel cell version. Although, BMW claimed the vehicle was purely "hypothetical."