Rumors and speculation about the next electric BMW have included everything from a van, a midsize sedan, a full-size sedan or an SUV, and now Autocar is reporting that it will indeed be an SUV. AutoGuide.com discovered patent drawings filed in Japan for an unnamed electric car, and BMW has also filed patents for i1 through i9 for its range of electric vehicles, and AutoCar believes the vehicle in the patent drawings will be assigned the i4 badge.
The British car magazine said that new sources have suggested BMW chose the SUV body style for its next model because of its global appeal in a booming market and greater profit margins than sedans and hatchbacks.
Additionally, an SUV can accommodate a bulky battery pack without compromising styling proportions.
Without commenting on the body style, Ian Robertson, BMW’s head of sales and marketing, confirmed the firm was waiting until 2021 for its next major launch so it could take advantage of “the next big steps in electric motor, battery and autonomy”.
This is possibly a reference to Samsung’s 125-Amp-hour lithium-ion cells, whose physical size will make a “low-height” pack possible, and are scheduled to come to market by 2019 or 2020.
“We are at the very early stages of i, but already we’re coming up to our 100,000th registration. Just as with M, there are opportunities that take time to build up, from i cars to i Performance products to i kit, such as an electric scooter,” Robertson said.
He added that the knowledge learned from the i3 and i8 continue to give BMW an advantage over competitors.
“The beauty of those cars is that they give us a competency in the field of electric cars and lightweight technology — not just in people, but in manufacturing, too. We are way ahead in the manufacturing of lightweight carbon fiber, for instance,” the sales and marketing chief said.
A likely venue for the debut of at least a concept version of the BMW i5 electric SUV would be the 2018 Frankfurt Motor Show, where German automakers often show off new and future models.
Before the i5 SUV arrives, BMW plans to launch a roadster version of its i8 gasoline-electric plug-in hybrid sports car set to arrive in 2018.
This article originally appeared on HybridCars.com