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It is no secret that the BMW i division’s model range is far from fulfilled, with just two opposing vehicles on each end of its spectrum. On one end, you have the BMW i3, a compact all-electric vehicle designed for zero-emissions city slicking, and on the other end, you have the BMW i8 hybrid sports car, which has a mind for the track and little else.

A BMW i5 has long been rumoured to fill the gap between the two models, and now, Henrik Wenders, head of product at BMW i, has confirmed those plans to Car and Driver. Naturally, the product man wasn’t keen on revealing too many details just yet, but provided some insight towards the i5’s development direction.

First of all, Wenders said that the i5 will be a vehicle more suited towards longer distances of travel, and have a greater capacity to carry more people and luggage in it. He didn’t mention what sort of a body style the i5 would adopt, but did say that it would need to be a household’s primary vehicle, not its third car, like he believes the i3 is.

“We are thinking of a new i model above it (i3) to attract families, and that means it must be capable of being the first car in the household. We are still working very hard on the usage concept, but this needs to be defined by the market, and not by us,” Wenders said.

BMW i3.

The product chief also mentioned that the i5 would have an optional range extender petrol engine like the i3 currently offers. That also confirms that the i5 would be an all-electric vehicle, and not a hybrid as rumours have previously suggested.

However, Wenders adds that the market’s reception towards the range extender option for the i3 suggests that its original traction battery is often enough to actually satisfy customer use. In many cases, Wenders explains that the optional petrol “generator” is more of a psychological comfort than an actual necessity.

“The range-extender plays an important part in the next years when range remains a limiting factor and a source of anxiety. Of course, once we get to a range that is more comparable with that of an internal-combustion engine, it will become obsolete. So this is the reason I can say we will continue to offer the range-extender in the future as optional equipment, to address different customer needs,” said Wenders.

Wenders remained cautions when speaking about the electric i5’s potential driving range. With several manufacturer’s setting targets in access of 500 km these days, the BMW i division sees no point in developing a model with such figures if it doesn’t fit the requirements of its true purpose.

“We are not going to join the race about maximum range figures. Currently if you compare those figures and see what kind of energy investment is behind it, you often see the total carbon footprint of those models is higher than a car with an internal-combustion engine. That doesn’t make any sense,” Wenders explained.

He also confirmed that like the i3, the BMW i5 will feature a carbon-fibre structure – so too will other BMW i models in the future. What would you expect from a BMW i5? What features would you like to see it have? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!