BMW patent front three quarter

What do we have here? Alleged patent drawings of an unknown BMW model have surfaced on Chinese auto portal PCauto.com.cn, with many now speculating as to what the car could actually be.

Apart from the i8-aping front end, the styling is quite a departure for Munich – compact, cab-forward proportions and a tall rear end that brings to mind the Toyota Prius and many other eco-friendly vehicles. The cockpit tapers significantly towards the rear, while large rear fenders lead to C-shaped tail lights – the rear end is reminiscent of the recently-revealed Honda Clarity Fuel Cell.

Other things to note include the split side windows, which suggest that it has upwards-opening doors, like the i8. There are also no door mirrors; the front fenders incorporate what look like a pair of rear-facing cameras, so perhaps that’s how the driver will be able to look along the sides of the car, à la Volkswagen XL1.

BMW patent rear three quarter

The matte black finish and boxy surfacing brings to mind the i8-based hydrogen fuel cell prototype revealed earlier in the year – suggesting that Munich has another H2-powered car in the works. BMW has said that it will field in a production fuel cell-powered vehicle after 2020, but that is slated to be a large sedan.

Of course, it could really just be a new BMW i model, likely the oft-rumoured i5 that will slot in between the current i3 and i8. Reports suggest that this car could make its debut as early as the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show later this month. As to what it actually is, well, your guess is as good as ours…