The single-motor, rear-wheel drive i4 starts at $56,395, with an expected range of about 300 miles.
Deliveries of the two versions of the i4 will begin in the US in early 2022.
Over the weekend BMW has begun production of the i4 electric four-door coupe, opening a new chapter in its electrification strategy at a crucial time for the automaker. Aimed directly at the Tesla Model 3, which has been enjoying some popularity in BMW's own backyard, the i4 is expected to be one of the most important battery-electric vehicles for the automaker this decade, in a way that the i3 hatch never quite was.
The i4 will be offered in two main flavors at launch: the i4 eDrive40 will be single-motor rear-wheel-drive version, serving up 335 hp, while the i4 M50 will get a second motor for a total of 469 hp and 538 lb-ft of torque, along with all-wheel-drive performance. The latter model is capable of 0-to-60-mph launches of 3.7 seconds, while the former will offer a more relaxed demeanor with 5.5-second sprint times.
The i4 eDrive40 will also be more affordable with a starting price of $56,395 in the states, while the M50 will require at least $66,895 to get into.
Pricewise, both versions of the i4 will land a bit north of the Model 3 as well as the Polestar 2—Volvo's own attempt to field a Model 3 competitor, and one that will also be available in single- and dual-motor versions. The midsize electric sedan segment is clearly getting some variety after being left almost entirely up to Tesla for a number of years.
"For the plant and team, the launch of the BMW i4 is a milestone on the road to electric mobility," said Milan Nedeljković, BMW AG board member for production. "By 2023 more than half of all vehicles from our Munich facility will have an electrified drive. The majority will be fully electric. So Munich goes fully electric."
The Munich plant that now produces the i4 is almost 100 years old, with the i4 joining the assembly line without requiring an extensive retrofit—almost 90% of the systems in the body shop were adapted to i4 production without extensive modifications. The model's battery pack is installed via a fully automated assembly system that attaches the battery from below the main floor level of the assembly line.
"We succeeded in integrating the new vehicle into our existing systems without halting production. The team and our partners did an amazing job," said Peter Weber, director of BMW Group Plant Munich.
"Our bodyshop is a shining example of intelligent, efficient integration. Most of the new production processes for the BMW i4 can be carried out on the existing bodyshop systems," Weber added.
When it comes to battery-electric vehicles, the arrival of the i4 will be closely followed by the market debut of the iX, which will be just as important for BMW's EV lineup in the coming years. Unlike the i4, it's not based on any existing gasoline model—the iX has been designed as an EV from scratch.