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BMW Unveils the Fully-Electric i4 Sedan at its Annual Press Conference in Munich

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【Summary】One of the most talked about new electric vehicles is BMW's i4 sedan, which the automaker officially revealed on Wednesday at the company's annual press conference in Munich. Although BMW shared a concept version of the i4 a year ago and recent spy shots were widely shared online, today marks the first time that BMW shared official photos of the electric sedan.

Eric Walz    Mar 17, 2021 10:00 AM PT
BMW Unveils the Fully-Electric i4 Sedan at its Annual Press Conference in Munich

Electric vehicle pioneer Tesla continues to face new competition in the EV space from legacy automakers including Volkswagen AG, BMW, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors, all of which are introducing new electric models for the first time.

One of the most talked about new electric vehicles is BMW's i4 sedan, which the automaker officially revealed on Wednesday at the company's annual press conference in Munich.

Although BMW shared a concept version of the i4 a year ago and recent spy shots were widely shared online, today marks the first time that BMW shared official photos of the electric sedan. When the concept was revealed last year, BMW said it was "very close" to the actual production version, which we know now is true.

At first glance, the BMW i4 looks like a standard four-door sedan. However its built on an entirely new platform which BMW calls a "Cluster Architecture" (CLAR) platform. The i4 uses a slim battery pack that was designed to offer optimum energy density. 

"It's hard to believe that there's actually a battery underneath the floor," said Adrain Van Hooydonk, Head of BMW Group Design last year when the concept version was revealed.

There will also be an M Performance version of the electric i4, which is poised to compete with Tesla's Model 3 and Model S. Both Tesla models have faced little competition from other automakers in the electric-performance segment, but that might change with the new BMW i4.

"With its sporty looks, best in class driving dynamics and zero local emissions, the BMW i4 is a true BMW. It makes the heart of the BMW brand now beat fully electric," said Pieter Nota, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for Customer, Brands, Sales.

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From the outside, the BMW i4 looks like standard sedan.

The BMW i4 model line will be available in different versions covering ranges of up to 590km (WLTP) and up to 300 miles (EPA). Power output will be up to 390kW and 530 horsepower. The BMW i4 can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in around 4 seconds.

To help control all of that power, BMW engineered a model-specific damper technology which reduces the dipping movements of the body during initial acceleration from a standstill. The damper technology includes "actuator-related" wheel slip limitation (ARB) developed by BMW. The system delivers optimum traction and perfect straight-line stability at all times, even on slippery road surfaces, BMW claims.

BMW worked hard to make sure the driving and handling characteristics of the i4 match that of its gas-powered models, and remain true to what BMW vehicles are known for. All of the i4's drive and suspension components, including the electric motor, is designed to provide controllable handling in every situation, BMW says.

"The BMW i4 conveys the feeling of being light and agile yet also solid and authoritative," said project manager David Alfredo Ferrufino Camacho earlier this year. "With its superior directional reliability and high level of cornering stability, it seems to literally attach itself to the road. All electric vehicles are capable of fast straight-line acceleration. But that's not enough for us at BMW."

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The i4 has a prominent front grille.

The i4 sedan is expected to accept charging rates up to 150 kW, allowing it to reach an 80% charge in about 30 minutes, although the official charging specs have not been announced yet. BMW said it will share the full details of the i4 over the next several weeks. 

The i4 also represents BMW's journey towards its electric future, with many more electric models to come.

"For the first time, we've developed a BMW with sporty DNA for purely electric driving entirely from scratch," said project manager David Alfredo Ferrufino Camacho in January. "The BMW i4 offers everything BMW stands for – and it's fully electric, too."  

The BMW i4 will be available later this year, three months earlier than initially planned. However, the automaker did not say exactly when it will go on sale. 

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