New BMW i4 Takes the Fight to Tesla

The 2022 BMW i4 is the first of the company's electric vehicles with a chance at achieving volume sales success with people who might otherwise get a Tesla. (BMW USA)

Powered by BMW's latest fifth-generation eDrive technology and sized similarly to the ever-popular 3 Series sedan, the new BMW i4 has the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y in its sights, in addition to a growing list of sportback-style all electric vehicles. It will go on sale in the first quarter of 2022.

BMW i4 prices start at $55,400 for the eDrive40 while the performance-oriented M50 costs $65,900 (not including a $995 destination charge). Both cars may qualify for federal EV income tax credits and state incentives. The i4 will compete with a growing field of EV rivals such as the Ford Mustang Mach-E, Kia EV6, Polestar 2, and Volvo C40 Recharge.

The i4 eDrive40 gets its power from a single 335-horsepower electrically excited synchronous electric motor at the rear axle. BMW estimates a range of about 300 miles for this configuration.

The high-performance i4 M50 gets its power from two motors, one each located at the front and rear axles. This all-wheel-drive setup produces a combined total of 536 horsepower. A special Sport Boost function ups the combined torque by 48 pound-feet to 586 lb.-ft. for 10 seconds at a time. The M50's estimated driving range is about 245 miles.

Both BMW i4s get their energy from an 83.9 kWh battery pack with a 200 kW capacity for DC fast charging. This capability allows adding up to 90 miles of range in just 10 minutes, or recharging from 10% to 80% in just over 30 minutes. Connecting to a Level 2 charging station allows a charging rate up to 11 kW, which means the i4 battery can go from completely depleted to fully charged in under eight hours. BMW is partnered with EVgo to provide drivers with access to nearly 39,000 charging stations across the U.S.

The i4’s battery contains less than 10% cobalt content due to BMW’s rigid monitoring of raw materials sourcing to ensure environmental and human rights. The automaker procures the lithium required for battery cell production under the same standards. And the i4’s electric motors are made without the use of rare earth materials.

Helping the battery to extend range, the adaptive energy recuperation system is an advanced regenerative braking system. It utilizes navigation data to adapt to the road situation and activate a high level of recovery the moment the driver releases the accelerator to slow down.

From the outside, the i4 is a low-slung sportback with hallmark BMW aesthetics from its tall kidney grille to its short overhangs. The M50 touts model-specific design features that speak to its high-performance character. Within, the i4’s cabin expresses a modern interpretation of BMW's driver-focused cockpit design with a slim instrument panel, smooth surfaces, and blue accents to acknowledge the electric drive system.

Along with BMW's latest iDrive 8 infotainment system, the i4 boasts several technology highlights, such as the curved-glass dual-screen information display spanning half the dashboard's width and a natural voice recognition system. Other notable tech options include an augmented reality head-up display and BMW Maps, a cloud-based system with digital services for navigation, parking, and charging.

The BMW i4 offers a wide range of advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS). Among the almost 40 ADAS features you'll find the latest versions of the automaker’s driving assist and collision avoidance technologies. Semi-autonomous parking technology is available, too.

BMW will build the i4 eDrive40 and M50 in Munich, Germany. The German automaker targets at least half of its sales to be zero-emission vehicles by 2030.