BMW starts production of electric car i4, Munich soon “purely electric”>

What Wolfsburg is to Volkswagen is Munich to BMW – the company’s official headquarters and the location where its first factory is located. While VW CEO Hebert Diess speaks openly about the need for conversion due to the challenge posed by Tesla, BMW is both less ambitious and less modest when it comes to electric cars. You don’t hear any respectful praise for Tesla from Munich, but on Friday the company announced the start of production of its i4 at the main plant in Munich, which is a “prime example of intelligent and efficient integration performance”. But unlike new VW electric cars, the BMW is still based on a mixed platform that is also used for combustion engines.

A “Tesla Fighter” from BMW

If there are many German online publications, then there is now a “Tesla Fighter” again. In the past, such expressions (sometimes including “killer”) were used a lot in reports on electric cars from traditional manufacturers, but after the first generations could do little against the pioneer, they have become rare. On Friday, however, the news agency dpa found that BMW had started to produce a Tesla fighter with the i4, and many editors left it with the heading.

For BMW itself, the i4 electric car is a “milestone for this plant and its team on the way to e-mobility,” as a press release states. In an interesting rhetorical contortion, the production director also stated that the Munich plant was on the way to becoming “purely electric”. At BMW, it is sufficient that, according to the announcement, from 2023 more than half of the vehicles produced in the main plant will have an electrified drive and the majority of them will be pure electric cars.

In the opinion of testers, the BMW i4 itself is similarly inconsistent. In terms of format, it could be an alternative to the Model 3 from Tesla, which burns off customers, especially in the sporty premium segment, from manufacturers of internal combustion engines. But the German electric car shares the architecture with many conventional BMW vehicles, which requires compromises. The i4 is also available as a more powerful M version. Normally, these BMWs are at the top of their class in terms of sport. But according to the magazine auto, motor und sport, the i4 M50 is not only 10,000 euros more expensive than the Tesla Model 3 Performance, it is also 400 kilograms heavier, “accelerates accordingly worse and cannot keep up with top speed”.

New electric car class from 2025

After all, with the standard range, the BMW i4 with a slightly larger battery manages to roughly keep up with the Tesla Model 3 in the Long Range version, and it charges with up to 200 kilowatt hours of power. Even the entry-level price of 58,300 euros is around 5,000 euros higher than for Tesla – and as is usual with German manufacturers, this is really just the beginning due to the mediocre standard equipment and many options.

Technically and perhaps also in terms of price, BMW electric cars could therefore become more interesting from 2025. From then on, a “new class” is planned, the architecture of which should be “uncompromisingly optimized for electric drives”. The mixed model with platforms for all drives has also been belatedly adopted by BMW – but a hydrogen option is still open for the new class.

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