BMW's Best-Selling 3 Series Is Now An EV - But There's A Catch

BMW is adding a new all-electric car to its portfolio, and it's weird in a bittersweet way. The iconic brand is calling it the i3 eDrive35L, which is definitely not easy on the tongue — or on human memory. Contrary to what the name suggests, the latest BMW EV is not based on the original i3, which was widely mocked for its toy-like design and made its exit from the U. S. market last year. Instead, BMW has based the i3 eDrive35L on the popular BMW 3 Series cars, which is quite evident from the looks. 

Now, let's get the bad news out. The new electric sedan will only be sold in China, and the company hasn't shared any plans of bringing it to other markets.

The i3 eDrive35L employs the in-house BMW Gen5 eDrive powertrain that also lends its services to the more premium iX3, i4, and iX models. BMW says it has made some adjustments to the car's suspension system to handle the roads in China. The car will be assembled at the company's plant in the Lydia region of Shenyang. With the i3 eDrive35L, the number of all-electric cars in BMW's portfolio has now climbed to six models. BMW hasn't revealed details about the pricing, however, and has only shared a May timeline for market release. Selling the car in China won't exactly be a cakewalk for BMW, as it will face stiff competition from Tesla and local heavyweights like BYD, Xpeng, and Nio, among others.

Building on the BMW 3 series legacy

BMW is touting a range of 327 miles for the i3 eDrive35L, which comfortably puts it ahead of affordable electric cars such as the 2022 Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet's updated Bolt EV, and the 2022 Hyundai Kona. But do keep in mind that this is the CLTC range that BMW is flaunting, which happens to be a tad generous and significantly higher than practical figures for day-to-day usage. Take for example the Tesla Model 3, which has a range of around 419 miles per CLTC system in China, but EPA estimates its range to be just over 350 miles.

The four-door all-electric EV claims a peak 400 Nm torque output. BMW says the i3 eDrive35L can go from still to 100kmph in 6.2 seconds, while the Tesla Model 3 is touted to do the same in about 3.3 seconds. BMW has fitted a 66.1 kWh battery in its electric car and claims that it can go from 10% to 80% level in 35 minutes. Charging it for 10 mins at its peak recommended wattage will offer enough juice for a 60-mile journey. Overall, BMW has ambitious electrification plans and targets EVs to make up 50% percent of net vehicle sales by 2030.