Update (11/30): BMW M Boss Frank van Meel confirmed in an interview with Top Gear that the company would "never" use "i" and "M" on the same performance car. But he doesn't rule out the possibility of an electric M car.
Are you ready for an electric BMW performance car? Trademark filings in Europe suggest to us it's on the way, and that it might be called the iM3.
Listings at the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and Germany's Deutsches Patent- und Markenamt (DPMA) show BMW has applied for the iM3 mark. We were unable to uncover similar filings with the US Patent and Trademark Office. Furthermore, the European filings are listed as pending, so it seems nothing is set in stone just yet. We contacted BMW seeking more information, but a spokesperson declined to comment.
Gallery: BMW Vision Neue Klasse EV Concept
It's certainly no secret that electric M products are in the pipeline. In July of this year, BMW M boss Frank van Meel expressed his interest in making the next-generation M3 and M4 all-electric – provided they can exceed the performance metrics of the current lineup. From a standpoint of straight-line thrust that shouldn't be a problem, but the M3 didn't earn its stripes by being a horsepower monster. Heavy battery packs can exact a toll on handling prowess, lest we forget BMW's recent excursion up Pikes Peak in the 6,000-pound XM that didn't go according to plan.
Of course, the M3 isn't a bulky SUV. The next generation will utilize BMW's Neue Klasse architecture, which thus far has been presented in a smaller package with a minimalist design language. It's a stark departure from BMW's current direction, and it's also important to note that a future iM3 may not be the only M3 at dealerships. As reported in September by our colleagues at InsideEVs, an all-electric M3 may arrive in 2027 and be sold alongside a combustion-powered version.
Filings for an iM3 moniker support that report, pointing to the coexistence of M3 and iM3 vehicles. So while the future for BMW M is still filled with electricity, it may not be an entirely electric affair for some time.