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BMW Wants to Make an Electric Performance Car But It Will Never Be Called iM3

Trademark or no, don’t expect BMW to release an iM3 anytime soon—if ever.

No less than the head of the German marque’s performance division, Frank van Meel, quashed the rumors that the company is planning to release an EV under the name, according to Top Gear. That doesn’t mean that the company won’t release a battery-powered M car, though.

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Earlier this fall, and again this week, reports circulated that BMW had trademarked the name iM3 with the E.U.’s intellectual property office. Because the company uses a lowercase i at the beginning of a car’s name to indicate that it’s an EV—i.e. the electric 3 Series is known as the i3—this led some to believe the filing was the sign that the M3 would be the next to get the treatment. Unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be the case.

“No, that will be a Mission Impossible!,” the executive told the website at its annual award show on Tuesday. “Actually, we would never use an i on an M, even though it would be electric.”

BMW’s M cars have evolved greatly over the four-and-a-half decades since the M1 made its debut. Their engines have grown and gained turbochargers, but the naming convention hasn’t changed. Van Meel explained that this is because the M at the beginning of the name is about more than what’s under the hood, it’s about what the car, itself, is capable of doing.

“So if we would ever do something like that, it will always be called an M without an i. Because that’s just the technology, and M is not about technology,” he said. “It’s about a promise, it’s about motorsports, it’s about emotion. It’s not about the drivetrain.”

While the iM3 isn’t in the works, van Meel’s comments make clear that an electric version of the high-performance model is a very real possibility. Unfortunately, it’s not clear when one it will arrive. The executive admitted that the company has thought about making battery-powered M3—”It’s in our hearts, it’s in our minds,” he said—but refused to confirm whether one is currently in the works. Still, considering his openness to the idea, and recent comments made by board member Frank Weber, it sounds as if it’s just a matter of time.

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