BMW to ditch lower-case “i” from its gas car model names

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BMW will simplify its model designations as it continues to expand its electric vehicle offerings.

The automaker recently confirmed to BMW Blog that starting with the next-generation X3 due for a reveal later in May, individual model designations for gas-powered models will no longer carry a lower-case “i.”

The i was originally introduced in the late 1960s on the 2000 tii, to signify fuel injection. But in the future, the letter will be reserved for BMW’s electric vehicles.

The current practice for gas model designations is to use a numerical portion followed by a lower-case i, such as 540i in the case of the 5-Series. Trademark filings that surfaced last year at the United States Patent and Trademark Office hint at what the new practice will be.

Under the new practice, the 540i will simply be a 540. In parallel, a model like the 5-Series’ electric i5 eDrive40 variant will simply be an i540.

Similarly, a gas-powered version of the X1 with all-wheel drive would be an X130 xDrive, while an electric version would be an iX130 xDrive. This is in contrast to current format where the gas-powered X1 uses designations such as X1 xDrive28i and the electric iX1 uses designations such as iX1 xDrive30. According to BMW Blog, the current gas-powered X3 M40i will be replaced by an X3 M50 with the arrival of the next-gen X3.

BMW isn’t the only automaker making changes to naming conventions to accommodate a major influx of EVs. Mercedes-Benz is slowly diminishing the significance of its EQ sub-brand for EVs, starting with the electric G-Class. Instead of calling it an EQG, as had been rumored, Mercedes has gone with the name G 580 with EQ Technology. Audi has also confirmed that it will use model names with even numbers for EVs and odd numbers for gas-powered cars.

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