BMW says no to electric iM3 – report

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Head of the M Performance division says BMW’s electric ‘i’ badge will never be applied to its legendary sports car.

The head of BMW M Division has ended speculation the ‘iM3’ badge will be used for an electric version of the company’s famous M3 sports car.

The name of the first electric car from the German car maker’s high-performance M Division appeared to be unearthed when the name ‘iM3’ trademark was filed earlier this week.

The letter ‘i’ has been used as a prefix on BMW’s electric models since the introduction of the i3 and i8 last decade. 

Now, Frank van Meel, CEO of the high-performance M Division, has staunchly told Top Gear the ‘iM3’ name registered will not be used on an electric version of the BMW M3.

“We would never use an ‘i’ on an ‘M’, even though it would be electric,” Mr van Meel told UK magazine Top Gear.

“Because an M3 had a four-cylinder, six-cylinder, eight-cylinder engine; naturally aspirated, turbocharged ones. Now it’s even got an xDrive, but it always remained an M3.”

While the name has been ruled out, an electric M3 has not, with Mr van Meel himself telling online magazine Ars Technica that M Division was working on a range of electric cars.

Those comments followed BMW development boss Frank Weber, who told UK publication Autocar in September 2023, “the next M3 will be battery-electric – full battery-electric”.

Mr van Meel’s rejection of the ‘iM3’ name suggests the next BMW M3 will not change its name, even as it moved to electrification.

“If we would ever do something like that, it will always be called an ‘M’ without an ‘i’. Because that’s just the technology, and ‘M’ is not about technology,” Mr van Meel added.

“It’s about a promise, it’s about motorsports, it’s about emotion. It’s not about the drivetrain.”

With the ‘i’ prefix continuing on electrified models, BMW is set to drop the ‘i’ ending used on its petrol-powered cars – with diesel denoted by the letter ‘d’ – since the 1980s.

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