BMW has announced the introduction of an electric version of the BMW 3 Series called the i3 eDrive35L. Built using the same chassis as the China-only G28 long-wheelbase 3 Series, the i3 eDrive35L uses BMW’s fifth-generation eDrive technology also found on the i4, iX, and iX3, and is eleven centimeters (or 4.3 inches) longer than the conventional G20 3 Series sold around the world. The i3 eDrive35L is said to have a range equivalent to 327 miles on a single charge, output equivalent to 282 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, and can accelerate from zero to 62 mph in 6.2 seconds. Its battery has gross and net capacities of 70.3 and 66.1 kilowatt-hours respectively and can be charged from 10% to 80% with 95-kilowatt DC fast charging in 35 minutes, while ten minutes of fast charging nets 60 miles of range. Trunk volume of 14.5 cubic-feet compares with seventeen cubic-feet for the G20 330i and 13.2 cubic-feet for the G20 330e hybrid.
Developed exclusively for the Chinese market, the i3 eDrive35L will be manufactured by BMW’s joint venture partner BMW Brilliance Automotive in Shenyang, China. According to BMW, the suspension of the model was tuned specifically for Chinese road conditions, while other components were adapted to accommodate for the supply-chain in China.
The addition of the i3 eDrive35L to the global BMW production line up means it’s the sixth electric vehicle currently offered by the brand. If you look closely at the background of the photo below, you’ll see camouflage-wrapped prototypes of two other upcoming BMW EVs, the i7 and the iX1. In the photo, you’ll also note the presence of a BMW i4 M50 and an iX, both of which represent BMW’s broader electrification efforts.
When considered amongst the presence of other BMW models like the iX and the upcoming i7, the i3 eDrive35L is decidedly downmarket, and intended to be produced and sold in large numbers for its home market. On the other side of the same coin, like other China-exclusive BMW models, the i3 eDrive35L boasts a larger and more luxurious area for the rear occupants, following the trend of other BMW models built specifically for China with lengthened wheelbases, including the latest example, a long-wheelbase version of the X5. Consistent with the rest of the car’s specifications, the output of its electric propulsion system is less of that than the other closest BMW models that come to mind, including the i4 eDrive40 and the iX xDrive40. This makes sense given the model designation suffix of eDrive35L, which is numerically less than the others.
The iX xDrive40 isn’t sold in the U.S., with BMW instead choosing to sell the iX xDrive50 and soon the iX M60 here instead, so the closest model the i3 eDrive35L slots against globally is the i4 eDrive40. The i4 eDrive40 has a range of 282 miles with nineteen-inch wheels or 301 mile with 18-inch wheels, and can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds. It develops the equivalent of 335 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque, uses a battery with a gross capacity of 83.9 kilowatt-hours and a net capacity of 81.5, and can be charged from 10% to 80% in 31 minutes using DC fast charging.
The purpose of the comparison isn’t to downplay the importance of the i3 eDrive35L, but to instead clearly illustrate its place in the line up as a mass-market model built to a specific price point. The model also makes it clear that the i3 nameplate will live on beyond the production span of the original ground breaking carbon-fiber EV.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]