BMW has long had the letter "i" at the end of its model names—325i, 540i, etc. The letter was initially used to differentiate fuel-injected cars from their carbureted counterparts, which had a three-digit name denoting series and engine size. But BMW has long since dropped carburetors, and it has the "i" electric sub-brand. So after decades, BMW is getting rid of the "i" from the end of model names.

A BMW executive confirmed the news to BMWBlog. The publication noted that the next-generation X3 is getting an M50 model whereas the current model is offered as an M40i. Bernd Köber, Senior Vice President BMW Brand and Product Management, Connected Company, told BMWBlog the automaker now wants "i" to mean you're driving an electric car.

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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.

We're not sure when we'll see the "i" dropped from the rest of BMW's gas-powered lineup. It will be strange to see something like "330" on the back of a 3 Series, because the "i" at the end has become such a staple. To this author's best recollection, the last time we saw a BMW badge like that in the U.S. was in the mid 1980s with the 325 eta, which used a low-revving long-stroke version of the company's M20 straight-six. D

espite 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.

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