It was almost a decade ago, in February 2011, when BMW revealed its sub-brand ‘BMW i’ to the world. Not only did the move bring the performance plug-in hybrid i8 and the all-electric BMW i3, it also changed the BMW brand, signalling a commitment to electric powertrains way before many other auto manufacturers.
Production on the i8 ended in April, and the i3 handed the mantel of being the BMW Groups priority urban EV to the Mini Electric in March. This left something of a vacuum in the maker’s electric lineup, which is to be filled with this, the iX, BMW’s new flagship EV.
The concept Vision iNEXT has been turned into this production model, which will come to market at the end of 2021. The four-wheel-drive electric SUV will be between the X3 and X5 in size.
Comparable with the BMW X5 in length and width, and almost the same height as the BMW X6, the iX will supposedly profile the company’s developments in automated driving, connectivity and electrification.
Sporting the fifth generation of BMW’s eDrive, the two electric motors develop a maximum output of more than 500hp. That should be sufficient to power the BMW iX from 0 to 62mph in under five seconds.
BMW aimed to get the power efficiency on the iX to 21kWh per 100 kilometres in the WLTP test cycle. This means that BMW is claiming that the “more than 100kWh” batteries on board will be good for a range of over 600 kilometres, that’s just over 370 miles.
DC fast-charging at up to 200kW will allow over 75 miles of extra range in ten minutes. That math means the battery can be charged from 10 to 80 per cent in under 40 minutes. No fast charger? It will take approximately 11 hours to charge from zero to 100 per cent at 11 kW from a Wallbox.
The iX repeats what made the i3 such a compelling early EV, as just like the urban car this SUV has been designed from the ground up to be all-electric. It doesn’t use any existing architecture from BMW, but a bespoke new one designed specifically for the iX. This of course means weight savings can be designed in from the very beginning. The iX body structure features an aluminium spaceframe and carbon cage, with a high torsional stiffness, so better for handling as well as protection, while minimising weight.
Plus, with a nod to sustainability and again echoing the i3, areas of the car employ “extensive use of natural and recycled materials”. The iX batteries also supposedly have a high recycling rate, while the power used to produce the battery cells and the battery as a whole come from renewable sources, BMW claims.
On improving the computing power of the iX, necessary as cars become more sensor laden and will eventually be mobile computers themselves when autonomous driving eventually arrives, BMW says it has developed the iX to process 20 times the data volume of previous models. As a result, double the amount of data from vehicle sensors can be processed.
Clearly, this is not going to result in complete self-driving capability, but along with the 5G-enabled SUV having improved parking functions, the car will eventually be level-3 autonomous capable.
Even though cooling grilles are not necessary on EVs, BMW’s polarising large vertical kidney grille remains, standing prominent at the front of the car, but now is completely blanked off. It now houses cameras, radar and other sensors hidden behind a transparent surface.
Other design elements include super-slim headlights, flush-fitted door openers, frameless side windows, a tailgate with no separation joints that extends across the whole of the rear. Inside is a panoramic glass roof stretching over all five seats, while no centre tunnel is needed, being an EV, and BMW says displays and controls only become visible when needed.
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