In the brief interview, Wenders shoots down many previous rumors about the i5. For example, he says the model is an EV – not hydrogen fueled or a plug-in hybrid like previous reports claim. However, BMW plans to offer an optional range extender like it does for the i3. "The range-extender plays an important part in the next years when range remains a limiting factor and a source of anxiety," said Wenders.
Without saying so directly, the exec also seems to suggest the division wouldn't use the platform from the long-wheelbase 5 Series for the i5, which some reports allege. Instead, Wenders sees the sub-brand as pushing BMW's technological prowess with tech like the current model's extensive use of carbon fiber. According to Wenders, "One of i's roles is as an enabling brand, to help industrialize new materials and processes. We have already opened the door with the i3, and we will take it from there."
BMW's EV boss told Autoblog in early 2014 that the company already had the new vehicle under development, but the automaker later denied that claim. With the current lineup, the i3 excels in urban environments, and the i8 is a sports coupe. The next natural step is to offer more room and greater range with the i5. Given the upcoming EV boom from models like the Chevrolet Bolt, Tesla Model 3, and next-gen Nissan Leaf, we're very curious to see BMW's effort to stay competitive in the segment.