A decade ago, the then-new BMW i brand of hybrid and electric vehicles was destined to be the future of the company. But today, the brand is only known for a recent string of cancelled plans, and covid-19 reportedly just cancelled more.
German publication Manager Magazin reports, via an unnamed insider, that BMW has cancelled plans for a next-generation sequel to the current i8 coupe and roadster sports cars, which reportedly would have been based on the striking Vision M Next Concept revealed last summer.
While the German magazine cites recent economic developments from the covid-19 outbreak helped push the decision to can the project along, BMW Blog reports the project has been on ice for sometime before the outbreak.
Gizmodo reached out to BMW about both reports and will update when more information is available.
Either way, it seems the “hybrid driver’s car of the future” is no more. Another failed project from BMW’s tech-inspired i division, and potentially another nail in its coffin.
Along with this allegedly-binned Vision M, BMW also recently cancelled plans to bring the all-electric iX3 crossover to the U.S. this year. That was supposedly over concerns it would muddy the waters for the iNext purpose-built EV crossover to come.
But from the beginning BMW’s i division sort of felt like it was written-off. Developing entirely unique platforms and splitting off hybrid and EV powertrain work made integration with the brand’s “normal” lineup unnecessarily complicated down the road. Brands like Honda or Toyota, by keeping models like the Prius in the family, retained much more value out of their hybrids.
It was done to avoid disaster should the i division’s work totally fail, but it didn’t. At least not completely. Instead it landed in a middle ground of development for too long, and it’s now being overshadowed by BMW’s other new projects.
And it really is a shame, as an i8 successor should have been in the works before now, had BMW been confident in it from the start. The concept car looks cool enough, and it was a sign of hope that BMW would push some of its enthusiast heritage into the future, instead of leaving everything behind.
Now we’ll just have to covet it in those 500 horsepower SUVs.