BMW has been quietly working on an electric version of its most popular car in the range these days, the 3 Series. We’ve seen it out and testing several times, under heavy camouflage, with the usual ‘Electric Test Vehicle’ badges on its doors. However, so far, BMW was mum on the topic and didn’t even confirm that it was indeed working on such a version, or any other details about it.
This week though, everything changed, as the car was reportedly leaked online, thanks to the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. The photos, posted on Instagram for the first time, show a familiar BMW 3 Series shape with some obvious changes done to it, to make it more aerodynamic. This could also serve as a clue as to what the facelift 3 Series will look like when it arrives, next year.
From what we can gather, the electric 3 Series Sedan will wear the BMW i3 nameplate, at least in China. That would, obviously, mean that the quirky electric hatchback that is currently wearing this nameplate on its tailgate will probably be retired soon, after more than 8 years in production. Furthermore, the pics show a very interesting design up front, with the new headlamps that are going to be used on the LCI 3 Series as well as blocked out grilles, with blue surrounds.
The wheels have also been aerodynamically optimized to improve the range of the car, while round the back the bumper has a totally different shape, with no taillights and an interesting badge on the boot lid. It seems to say 35L which might be a hint as to what hides under the sheet metal.
China has been the spoiled kid of the automotive industry for years. Customers over there are regularly treated to long wheelbase versions of various models, the 3 Series being no exception. It looks like the first ever electric 3 Series will be sold in China using the same platform as the long wheelbase ‘normal’ 3er and that’s what the L in the nameplate stands for. The 35 might also be a hint as to what hides under the hood.
Most likely, the electric 3 Series will be using the same drivetrain as its BMW i4 brother. The latter is offered in two versions right now, the RWD eDrive40 and the AWD M50 model. The ‘35’ badge on the boot of this 2022 BMW i3 might suggest power is somewhere around the 300 HP mark, a bit lower than what the base i4 offers.
While all of this definitely sounds interesting, we’re still pretty far off from seeing the first ever electric 3 Series arrive to the US. The car in the pictures at hand is aimed solely at the Chinese market for now, but we could see it become a real option on other markets too somewhere in late 2022 or early 2023.