For the first time, the letter “i” appeared in the BMW designation to distinguish engines with injection from those with carburetors. After the complete model range switched to injection, it then remained as a designation for a gasoline engine, while the letter “d” is used to designate diesel engines. BMW cars are therefore commonly named, for example, “530i”, when five indicates the model series, the number 30 indicates the motorization, and the “i” at the end indicates that it is a gasoline engine. Years ago, the letter “e” was also added, which indicates plug-in hybrid drives.

However, the arrival of purely electric models, which started with the i3 model, threw a pitchfork into this logic, and currently the i4, i5 and i7 designations are used. Although there is an “i” at the beginning, its use on both electric and combustion models can be somewhat confusing. BMW has therefore decided to make a radical cut – soon the use of the letter will only apply in connection with electric models.


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The first swallow of this change is the upcoming new generation of the X3 model. The brand’s compact SUV has not yet been fully unveiled, but the first information that accompanied the images of camouflaged prototypes revealed the engine name “X3 M50”, replacing the existing “X3 M40i”. So the editors of the BMW Blog server asked BMW how it is with the new markings, and received an affirmative answer. In his answer, Bernd Körber mentions that the “i” in the name of the cars is meant primarily to mean innovation, and that the automaker wants to carry the letter into the future.

It will be the X3 that will be the first to see the change – it should be presented in October this year. Other introduced new generations and variations will follow. So far, it looks like the petrol engines will remain without the letter, while the diesels will most likely keep their ‘d’.