Confirmed: BMW Scraps the 'i' in Names of Its Gas-Powered Cars

2025 bmw 4series
Confirmed: BMW ICE Cars Lose the 'i' from Now OnBMW
  • To reduce customer confusion, BMW is dropping the "i" suffix for its internal-combustion-engined cars, and yes, this is because of EVs.

  • The "i," as a prefix, will continue to be used as in the names of the company's EV models, for example the i4.

  • The change begins with the new X3 M50 and will gradually apply to the rest of BMW's ICE range, BMW has confirmed to Car and Driver.

It's official: at BMW, the i's have had it. The new 2025 X3 M50 that replaces the previous X3 M40i drops its "i" suffix, and more combustion-engined BMWs will follow. As first reported on the fan site BMW Blog, senior BMW vice president Bernd Körber indicated that the historic i designation would now be found only as a prefix on the names of EV models going forward. BMW's media relations team has confirmed to C/D that the change is coming.

"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]," Körber told BMW Blog. "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."

BMW's first dalliances with fuel injection were, of course, in aviation applications. The first BMW road cars to wear an "i" suffix weren't actually fuel injected; in the 1963 1800ti, the t stands for touring and the i for international. Later, as with the 1971 3.0CSi, the i was indeed intended to indicate that the Bimmer in question had fuel injectors instead of carburetors.

In 1972, the 2002tii arrived, its 2.0L engine fitted with mechanical fuel injection from Kugelfischer. It's worth pointing out here that electronic fuel injection did already exist, and was offered by other marques, but the 2002tii was such a fierce little shoebox, its double-ii designation captured the public's imagination.

With the E21 3-series that followed, only the 320i and later 318i were fitted with fuel injection, and thus an "i" suffix started representing sporting intent and a little more technology under those Bavarian snouts. Skip ahead a few years, and BMW was mostly labeling its cars something like 330i out of habit. If everything is fuel injected, what's the point of calling it out? Porsche had to answer the same question with its Turbo designation, relegating it to essentially a trim level.

2024 bmw i5
2024 BMW i5.BMW

However, BMW also uses "i," now, as a designation for its electric vehicles—with or without combustion range extender—dating back a decade to the first i3. There now is a full range of i models, and while the i3 was charmingly odd, like a modern Isetta, something like an i4 or i5 is thoroughly mainstream. So is a conventional combustion vehicle like the X3.

BMW doesn't offer a time frame on when the change will roll out, but it's hardly the end of an era. More disapproving muttering happened around the time the numerical model designations stopped indicating engine displacement, and we're well past those days. Change is the only constant.

Of course, if you're a diehard BMW fan, then perhaps there's a little sadness to seeing the i suffix wink out of existence. So mark its passing, then jump into your vintage 2002tii and hit those back roads, making sure to cross the t and dot those i's.

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