Tesla wanted to call its new mid-size car the Model E, but Ford owns the rights to that name, so it became the Model 3 instead. That’s fitting, in a way, since both it and the BMW 3 Series are very similar in size, performance, and price. The Model 3 is aimed right at the heart of the 3 Series customer base. The 3 Series is BMW’s bread and butter car. It accounts for about a third of all BMW’s sold every year in all markets. The company can ill afford to see its customers flocking over to the nearest Tesla store when it comes time to make their next car purchase.
According to a report in AutoExpress, the next generation 3 Series is expected in 2018. It will feature an all new chassis using CLAR technology, which stands for Cluster Architecture. BMW used CLAR to introduce carbon fiber structural components to the latest 7 Series sedan introduced earlier this year. The use of carbon fiber in a mass produced car was accomplished for the first time in the BMW i3. When applied to the new 3 Series, it is expected to shave almost 200 pounds from the weight of the car. The lighter components will be found in the pillars, door frames, and transmission tunnel, says AutoExpress.
An unnamed source tells the British publication that the new chassis has been engineered with an all electric drivetrain in mind. The source claims BMW plans to use a 90 kWh battery, which should allow the car to at least 300 miles of range. Whether that distance is computed using the generous European standard or the more conservative US testing protocol is unclear. It is projected to go on sale in 2020.
By comparison, the Model 3 is said to have at least 215 miles of range and it is believed its entry level battery will have 50 kWh of power. It will go into production in late 2017, if Elon Musk has his way. That the upstart from Silicon Valley is pushing mighty BMW to accelerate its electric car offerings far sooner than expected is testament to the power of Elon Musk’s dream and indomitable personality.