• 2024 BMW i5 begins rolling of the assembly line in Dingolfing, Germany, sharing its CLAR platform with the internal-combustion 5-Series, and joining a number of other electric models in BMW's lineup.
  • The i5 will be produced alongside the internal-combustion and plug-in hybrid versions of the 5-Series, and will also receive a station wagon variant in the near future.
  • Two versions of the i5 will be offered early on, including a single-motor rear-wheel-drive version dubbed i5 eDrive 40 and the dual-motor AWD i5 M60.

BMW kicked off production of the battery-electric i5 sedan in Dingolfing, Germany, adding a midsize sedan to its lineup amid a raft of new electric models. Slated to be offered in rear- and all-wheel-drive versions stateside, the dual-motor i5 M60 xDrive will serve up 590 hp and 549 lb-ft of torque, staking out a spot in a segment that should see plenty of competition later on in the decade.

The i5 joins the all-electric i7 larger sedan and iX midsize crossover on the production line in Dingolfing, with the automaker expecting this plant to see battery-electric models' share surpass 40% at the site by 2024, as BMW continues to offer internal-combustion and plug-in hybrid versions of the 5-Series as well. In fact, BMW has spent over a billion euros tooling up to produce internal-combustion, PHEV, and battery-electric versions of all three cars at Dingolfing.

"We are following the market. Customer requirements determine what the actual drivetrain mix looks like," said Milan Nedeljković, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for Production.

The junior model in the lineup, meanwhile, will be the i5 eDrive40, with a single motor out back producing 335 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. The single-motor version should offer 295 miles of range in the EPA cycle once it lands here, thanks to an 84.3-kWh (usable) battery, but the AWD i5 M60 xDrive will dial that down to about 256 miles equipped with the same battery.

The i5 isn't quite a Tesla Model 3 fighter, as it's positioned above Tesla's best-selling sedan, with that unenviable task falling to the BMW i4. The smaller i4 is also offered in single- and dual-motor flavors, with the i4 M50 serving up 536 hp.

2024 bmw i5
The i5 shares the CLAR platform with its internal-combustion siblings.
Tom Kirkpatrick

It's also clear that BMW is erring on the side of performance rather than range in its sedan offerings, so we're unlikely to see the automaker try to set records with weight or battery size while chasing ambitious EPA range numbers. Perhaps BMW knows that owners of its cars will have another vehicle in their garage for long range when they need it.

Speaking of other vehicles, the i5 shares its CLAR platform with the 5-Series, unlike the Mercedes-Benz EQE, which is based on an EV-only platform. BMW is focused on maximum flexibility when it comes to electric offerings, at least for now.

"E-mobility is the new normal at our plants worldwide. Between 2021 and 2024, we will have integrated a total of 15 fully electric vehicles into our production network," Nedeljković added.

It remains to be seen whether the i5 can lead a segment that has remained directly unaddressed for quite some time, with BMW and others focusing largely on crossovers. Mercedes' EQE sedan will be its most direct competitor at launch, to be followed by the Audi A6 e-tron a little further down the road in 2024.

Will midsize luxury sedans make a comeback once there are several electric models to choose from, or will their popularity wane, much like larger luxury sedans? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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Jay Ramey

Jay Ramey grew up around very strange European cars, and instead of seeking out something reliable and comfortable for his own personal use he has been drawn to the more adventurous side of the dependability spectrum. Despite being followed around by French cars for the past decade, he has somehow been able to avoid Citroën ownership, judging them too commonplace, and is currently looking at cars from the former Czechoslovakia. Jay has been with Autoweek since 2013.