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Electric vehicles have thrown a wrench into the delicate alphanumeric naming conventions notoriously put into use by the Germans, and the solutions are certainly something to get used to. Audi dove in first with the controversial decision to set aside even-numbered badges for EVs, while ICE models get the odd numbers. More recently, Mercedes opted to drop the EQ prefix, instead using the mouthful of a phrase "with EQ Technology" to differentiate between gas and electric. And now, BMW has decided to better organize its naming conventions by killing a tradition it started nearly 50 years ago. The 'i' suffix is no more.


The news follows a string of rumors that emerged last year, which predicted that BMW would take the 'i' off the end of its gas models to reduce confusion with electric models like the i4 and i7. Now, the automaker has confirmed that the change will in fact be applied to its internal-combustion lineup, starting with the redesigned X3 later this year. That means we'll no longer see the "X3 xDrive30i" badge, and instead we'll be left with "X3 xDrive30." Further in the future, models like the "330i" and "760i" will simply switch to "330" and 760."



Back when the 'i' suffix first appeared on BMW's trunk lids in the early 1970s, the letter was meant to denote the use of fuel injection. At the time, this was a state-of-the-art technology, just as EVs are somewhat newfangled today. But by the time adoption of fuel injection spread to the entirety of the BMW lineup, the 'i' suffix stuck around simply for nostalgia's sake. While the introduction of SUVs would eventually turn things into alphabet soup––after all, X5 xDrive35i is quite a mouthful––that wasn't nearly the start of the problem.


Trouble really arose when BMW started rolling out its first electric vehicles, sticking the same 'i' moniker in front of the name while insisting that it stood for "innovation." That meant the 'i' suffix on gas models would spiral into a loss of relevance while vehicles like the i4, i5, and i7 began hitting the road.


"Historically, even though our interpretation of BMW i was always different, it’s more innovation, not necessarily only electric, and we historically had injection at the end [of the badge], we said, we would like to keep 'i' as an asset, and we would like to keep it as a signature to indicate you’re driving an electric car and that was the logic that we had," said Bernd Körber, BMW's Senior VP of Brand Management, while speaking to BMWBlog.



While the traditional 'i' suffix will be missed, its disappearance won't be immediate. BMW models will only drop the letter from their names when they receive their next redesign or refresh. BMWBlog predicts that after the next-generation X3 introduces the new naming scheme, it will then spread to models like the new 1-Series and 2-Series Gran Coupe, followed by the facelifted 7-Series in 2026. The redesigned 3-Series will likely adopt the evolved moniker during that time as well.


While some might be startled to see such a change being made for BMW's rather delicate naming structure, we can't say it doesn't make sense. Just as the 'i' stood for the novel idea of fuel injection back in the early 1970s, it's evolving 50 years later to stand for the increasing prevalence of EVs.



Image Credits: BMW
Report
May 17, 2024
 •

BMW Trashes 'i' Suffix On Gas Models As It Reserves Letter For EVs Instead

Models like the "330i" and "760i" will now simply be called "330" and "760."

Electric vehicles have thrown a wrench into the delicate alphanumeric naming conventions notoriously put into use by the Germans, and the solutions are certainly something to get used to. Audi dove in first with the controversial decision to set aside even-numbered badges for EVs, while ICE models get the odd numbers. More recently, Mercedes opted to drop the EQ prefix, instead using the mouthful of a phrase "with EQ Technology" to differentiate between gas and electric. And now, BMW has decided to better organize its naming conventions by killing a tradition it started nearly 50 years ago. The 'i' suffix is no more.


The news follows a string of rumors that emerged last year, which predicted that BMW would take the 'i' off the end of its gas models to reduce confusion with electric models like the i4 and i7. Now, the automaker has confirmed that the change will in fact be applied to its internal-combustion lineup, starting with the redesigned X3 later this year. That means we'll no longer see the "X3 xDrive30i" badge, and instead we'll be left with "X3 xDrive30." Further in the future, models like the "330i" and "760i" will simply switch to "330" and 760."



Back when the 'i' suffix first appeared on BMW's trunk lids in the early 1970s, the letter was meant to denote the use of fuel injection. At the time, this was a state-of-the-art technology, just as EVs are somewhat newfangled today. But by the time adoption of fuel injection spread to the entirety of the BMW lineup, the 'i' suffix stuck around simply for nostalgia's sake. While the introduction of SUVs would eventually turn things into alphabet soup––after all, X5 xDrive35i is quite a mouthful––that wasn't nearly the start of the problem.


Trouble really arose when BMW started rolling out its first electric vehicles, sticking the same 'i' moniker in front of the name while insisting that it stood for "innovation." That meant the 'i' suffix on gas models would spiral into a loss of relevance while vehicles like the i4, i5, and i7 began hitting the road.


"Historically, even though our interpretation of BMW i was always different, it’s more innovation, not necessarily only electric, and we historically had injection at the end [of the badge], we said, we would like to keep 'i' as an asset, and we would like to keep it as a signature to indicate you’re driving an electric car and that was the logic that we had," said Bernd Körber, BMW's Senior VP of Brand Management, while speaking to BMWBlog.



While the traditional 'i' suffix will be missed, its disappearance won't be immediate. BMW models will only drop the letter from their names when they receive their next redesign or refresh. BMWBlog predicts that after the next-generation X3 introduces the new naming scheme, it will then spread to models like the new 1-Series and 2-Series Gran Coupe, followed by the facelifted 7-Series in 2026. The redesigned 3-Series will likely adopt the evolved moniker during that time as well.


While some might be startled to see such a change being made for BMW's rather delicate naming structure, we can't say it doesn't make sense. Just as the 'i' stood for the novel idea of fuel injection back in the early 1970s, it's evolving 50 years later to stand for the increasing prevalence of EVs.



Image Credits: BMW

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