BMW Debuts First Ever i4 Coupe And Their First Ever EV With An M Badge!

clifford chow
3 Jun 2021

Munich, Germany - The BMW i4 is BMW’s first full-electric Gran Coupe (technically a sedan with a lower roof) to hit the production lines. Just a week ago, BMW announced their one-two product salvo, featuring their i4 Gran Coupe, and their iX mid-sized CUV. The i4 is the first 4 Series Gran Coupe range to be announced, and also their first EV with the M Performance badge.

BMW’s long EV developmental runway has ensured that the i4 is designed to deliver the best in long distance comfort. A slim battery, consisting of a total of 72 cells, housed within 12 cell modules for both models, provides a maximum range of 590km for the BMW i4 eDrive40, while their first M-badged car, the BMW i4 M50, boasts 510km. BMW has incorporated the electric motor, power electronics and transmission into a single housing, and BMW states that their design approach enables a power density that is around 50% greater than the electric drive system of the BMW i3 (MY 2020). The integrated design also reduces installation space.

The electric motors developed in-house by the BMW Group have an efficiency factor of 93 per cent in their latest version, this is better than what is achieved by current combustion engines, and rank among the leading electric drive units in their class. This improvement in efficiency enables the BMW i4 eDrive40 to deliver 20-16 kWh / 100km, while the high-performance M50 manages 24-19 kWh / 100km.

Both models are equipped with BMW’s fifth gen electric drive technology, that can be charged at a DC fast-charging station at up to 200kW, adding 164km to the i4 eDrive40, and 140km of added range to the i4 M50, in just a span of just 10 minutes. An AC charge rate of up to 11kW, completely charges the battery in 8.5 hours.

The BMW i4 eDrive40, is paired with an electric motor driving the rear wheels, and delivers 340hp from between 8,000 and 17,000rpm, and BMW states boldly that it is on equal footing to BMW’s current range of most powerful inline-six diesels, delivering peak torque of 430Nm. Off the line, the BMW i4 eDrive40 clocks 100km/h in 5.7 seconds, and has a limited top speed of 190km/h.

The performance orientated BMW i4 M50 is powered by a 190kW electric motor up front and a 230kW unit at the rear, delivering a rear-biased AWD driving experience. Both motors combined, deliver a maximum output of 400kW. In addition, the M50 is also equipped with a Sport Boost function, enabling the BMW i4 M50 to accelerate to 100km/h in 3.9 seconds. The Sport Boost function can also be activated in succession if there is sufficient charge. 

Efficiency of the BMW i4 is further enhanced by the car’s adaptive recuperation, from scavenging of energy during braking. The system works in tandem with data from the car’s navigation system, which feeds information about the road ahead, and increases the level of recuperation when travelling around tighter corners or where the speed limit is lower. This is done the moment the accelerator is released. 

On places like highways, the i4’s coasting function allows the car to glide freely when lifting off the throttle. The adaptive system is also able to automatically determine if the speed of the car needs to be regulated, and if so, the car’s regenerative braking is activated. The adaptive system is also intelligent enough to recognise when traffic lights switch from red to green, and remains in coast coast mode. 

Maximum recuperation power for the eDrive40 model is 116kW, while the M50, at 195kW. In urban driving conditions, the i4 can even be driven with one pedal. If the brake pedal is released when the car is stationary, the car rolls forward at a slow speed, similar to ICE cars, eliminating the need to work the accelerator and brake, reducing jerks associated with accelerating and braking within short distances.

The rigid body structure on the i4 contributes greatly to the car’s dynamic handling, in addition to this, the BMW i4 eDrive40 is fitted with a lift-related damping system that generates linear damper force according to the changing spring travel, resulting in harmonious damping response. Body movement caused by bumpy road surfaces is significantly reduced, and hydraulic damping prevents the i4 eDrive40 from diving excessively when going over large bumps.

Over on the performance-oriented BMW i4 M50, handling is further enhanced with an adaptive M suspension system. Drivers will benefit from specially tuned springs and dampers, and the adaptive suspension allows drivers to select their personally preferred suspension damping rate. Both cars feature an automatic self-levelling rear suspension, designed to keep the i4 at a constant ride height, even when carrying heavy loads.

More Technology Served Up

Interaction between the drive and the car has been further enhanced with BMW’s new iDrive, powered by BMW’s new Operating System 8, which pays strong attention to dialogue-based interaction, and touch-based operation. The new BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant which is activated by the phrase “Hey BMW”, now features a new graphic, designed to communicate with the vehicle’s occupants. In BMW tradition, the 14.9” control display is angled toward the driver; and now merges with the 12.3” control display to form a singular unit.

With the new operating system, the BMW intelligent Personal Assistant learns and acts according to context and proactively. An example of this, is if the car is driven to a fast food drive-thru, the system based on GPS coordinates, can automatically wind down the driver’s side window at the ordering station.

Drivers can create a personalised profile, using the BMW ID, which allows them to personalise their user experience with the BMW iDrive. All it takes is for the driver to scan their QR code through their My BMW App, and customised settings can be ported from different BMW cars, equipped with either the BMW Operating System 8 or BMW Operating System 7.

Sustainability Throughout Their Value Chain

In ensuring that the i4 is built with sustainability in-mind, BMW has set targets for upstream production chains. For instance, third party manufacturers for their fifth-generation BMW eDrive technology, are only allowed to use renewable sources of electricity for production. The aluminium casings for the electric drive system in the BMW i4 for instance, are manufactured using purely green power. Only hydroelectric power generated locally is used in the vehicle’s production at BMW Group Plant in Munich.

Mining for Cobalt by hand

During development of the current generation of battery cells, the proportion of cobalt contained in the cathode material was reduced to less than ten per cent. BMW’s cobalt supply itself is hand-sourced, reducing its impact on the environment.

When Will We See BMW's New i4?

The BMW i4 eDrive40 will likely reach our shores within the first quarter of 2022, while the higher performance M50 variant is still under discussion.

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