BMW Removes ‘i’ Branding from Gas-Powered Vehicles

BMW discontinuing use of i in gas car names to prevent confusion with electric line.

For years, BMW has featured the letter “i” at the end of its model names such as 325i, 540i, and so on. Originally, this letter was utilized to distinguish fuel-injected vehicles from those with carburetors, which were identified by a three-digit combination representing the series and engine size. However, as BMW has phased out carburetors and introduced the “i” electric sub-brand, the automaker has decided to eliminate the “i” from the end of its model names after many years.

According to a BMW executive who spoke to BMWBlog, the next-generation X3 will be receiving an M50 model, while the current model is available as an M40i. Bernd Köber, Senior Vice President BMW Brand and Product Management, Connected Company, explained to BMWBlog that the company’s new direction is to associate the “i” designation with electric vehicles.

In a world where BMW sells an i5 that’s fully electric and a 540i that isn’t, you can see how some customers could get confused. And yes, the lowercase “i” at the end of the model name is heritage, but the electric “i” sub-brand is also now a well-established property. It’s also one of the best naming conventions in electric cars. The name i5 makes it obvious that we’re talking about an electric 5 Series, for example.

It is uncertain when BMW will remove the “i” from the remainder of its gas-powered lineup. Seeing something like “330” on the back of a 3 Series will be unfamiliar, as the “i” has become a significant part of the badge. The last time a BMW badge without the “i” was seen in the U.S. was in the mid-1980s with the 325 eta, which featured a low-revving long-stroke version of the M20 straight-six engine.

Despite being fuel injected, some of these cars were badged as, simply, 325, while others were badged 325e. BMW has also subbed in the letter “d” for diesel cars, though we haven’t had one of those in the U.S. for some time either.

Source: BMW Blog


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