BMW’s Roadmap Includes Electric Cars in Three Sizes

By · May 24, 2011

The frame of the BMW i3

The BMW i3 starts to take shape.

Most electric car fans already know that BMW is planning to introduce its first production EV in 2013. It was recently given the official name i3, and was previously called the Megacity Vehicle or MCV.

What hasn’t been common knowledge is that BMW is simultaneously working on two slightly different variations called the Intracity Vehicle (ICV) and the Urban Commuter Vehicle (UCV). In addition, BMW is experimenting with the idea of adding a small three-cylinder engine to the i3 as a range-extender option. If that BMW plug-in hybrid ever comes to fruition, it won't be for at least a year or two after the 2013 i3 launch.


Possible cell of the Intracity vehicle.

The ICV will be smaller than the i3, with only two seats, fewer batteries and a shorter range than the i3. The target market is people that live in major cities and rarely need to drive outside the city limits. I’m guessing it will be at least two feet shorter than the i3, making it about 133 inches in length. That’s half-a-foot shorter than the new Fiat 500.

The ICV is planned for a 2015 introduction, two years after the i3 launch. I’ve even heard rumors that MINI may sell a car using the same platform and base it on the MINI Rocketman concept.

Early prototype of the UCV cell

Early prototype of the UCV cell.

The Urban Commuter Vehicle, or UCV, is scheduled for production two years after that, in 2017. It will be a four-door, five-passenger EV that’s bigger than the i3, with a larger pack and greater range. With its greater range, BMW is hoping that its suburban and even rural customers—folks who would never consider the i3—will look at this electric vehicle. I expect this car to be about the size of a Nissan LEAF, if not a bit larger.

BMW eDrive system

BMW eDrive system.

All of these vehicles will employ the LifeDrive architecture, where the drive system and the life cell are basically two different components. They will have use aluminum and carbon fiber instead of steel, making them 25 to 30 percent lighter than comparable sized cars.


· Anthony (not verified) · 7 years ago

Good news! The more the merrier. I like the ICV concept. Small & lightweight. Probably only need about 12 to15 kilowatt hour pack to move it 75-85 miles. That will keep the cost down which is really key. If they could sell it at around 30K before incentives they would have a winner.

· jerry (not verified) · 7 years ago

BMW is really surprising me. Its still early but it looks like they get it. These three cars cover a lot of driving needs add a sports sedan and a small X3 sized plugin crossover and they'll have it all covered. Nice job!

· · 7 years ago

Let's see them build them and sell them. Then, I'll get excited.
Thanks for the update though.

· · 7 years ago

ex: I don't doubt that plans could change if the i3 bombs. They are planning on selling 30,000 of them per year so it that number is more like 10K, who knows? However it is good to see that they are developing these cars, and trust me they are.

In a related story, the carbon fiber plant in Lake Moses, WA being built by the BMW/SGL joint venture was just completed last week. This is where they will be making the CFRP for the i3 and these other EV's. Here's a link to the story:

· · 7 years ago

Tom, anything on that $35K figure for i3 ... Is that before or after tax credits .. ?

· · 7 years ago

EVNow: Remember BMW didn't officially announce that figure, it was reported by Car & Driver who claim to have a "deep source" yet the deep source managed to incorrectly state the range of the car. It wasn't until I sent Car & Driver an email telling them they they were wrong did they issue a retraction and correct it.
My contacts at BMW will not discuss price at all. They have even told me that they haven't determined the price yet and probably won't for a year or so since the car is still two years away. Personally I don't see how they can sell it for 35K so that would lend credence to 35k being after the federal rebate if that figure is even correct at all. The CFRP materials they are using are expensive, there is no way around it. Plus, it's going to have luxury furnishings, it's not a Kia, it's a BMW. How many BMW's can you buy for 35K? They are in the business of selling premium automobiles, I expect these cars to be no different.

· · 7 years ago

@Tom : Makes sense. I don't see anyone setting a price now for a car coming out after 2 years. They might target a price internally for design - may be they are targeting 35,000 Eruos ;-)

I think many of these follow the old rule - those who know won't speak, those who speak won't know.

· · 7 years ago

"I don't see anyone setting a price now for a car coming out after 2 years"
Hell, we can't get Ford to give us the price of the Focus EV coming out later this year. Remember the buildup for the Volt pricing? They announced the price about four months before they started shipping. Anyone that say's they know what the i3 is going to sell for is probably full of it. Like you said, "those who know won't speak, those who speak won't know"

· Anonymous (not verified) · 6 years ago

Will the eDrive system pictured above be incorporated in each of the vehicles or do they all have their own unique powertrain? Also, any guess on the range of the UCV? It seems that would need to be at least 125-150 to really make a difference as compared to the MCV, no?

· · 6 years ago

Anonymous: Yes, the plan is to use basically the same e-drive system, just smaller or larger depending on the vehicle. Even the motor is scalable.
I haven't heard of any range estimated for the UCV but I would venture to guess by 2017 when this vehicle is planned to launch 150MPC would be the minimum goal for this vehicle.

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