BMW iNext, as it was known for a long time, has finally been revealed in its production form and that includes its new name. Let us introduce you to another exciting brand new electric vehicle on the market. That's right. The BMW iX is here. It's a pure electric SUV with 500 horsepower to put a smile on your face.
BMW were trailblazers in electrification. They took EVs very seriously in the early days. In 2013, the BMW i3 re-wrote the rulebook of how an EV could be designed and built – 170,000 of them later, it's an incredible success. A year later, the BMW i8 wowed customers with its style and performance. But that was six years ago. And from then to now, BMW didn't exactly keep the ball rolling. So, are they back in the electric vehicle space setting new standards, and leading the way? We'll see.
BMW just unveiled the all-electric iX in production form, and it will be on the market in late 2021. According to a BMW presentation, this is a cars that they call a technology signature.
But before we get to the technology. Let's talk about the engineering. Underneath the body you'll find dual motors putting out 500 horsepower that will move the SUV from naught to 62 miles per hour in less than five seconds. That's very respectable for a car of this size. The range is just under 400 miles on the European WLTP test cycle – you can expect a little less on the U.S. EPA test – and the battery will charge very quickly: 200 kilowatts of power, if you can plug into one of the latest high-powered DC chargers. So why is BMW so proud of the technology in this? In fact they've even given it a name. They call it "shy" technology, because it's not there most of the time. Switches and controls are hidden when not in use, and when the car senses that the user might need them, it will then present them. Afterward, they will fade back into the background.
Where are the speakers? Well, it definitely has plenty of them, but they're pretty much hidden. It does have very obvious interfaces and those are the two touch screens. The main center touch screen is so thin, it looks like a high-end television you might find in your lounge.
Let's move to the front of the car. The signature BMW grille is still there. Now for their combustion cars, it's there to suck in as much air as possible to the engine, but that's not needed on an EV. With just a little cooling needed, why is it there? Well partly for BMW styling reasons, but no doubt it also hides a raft of driver assistance sensors. They've also hidden the door handles that are completely flush and disappear into the door, and only present themselves when you need to get into the vehicle.
BMW rightly have a reputation for their high tech production methods, which include the BMW i3, and more of that technology is being used in the iX. A carbon fiber cage and framework, with aluminum construction, makes the whole body shell incredibly strong, but also very lightweight.
The battery inside is underneath the passenger compartment for greater stability. It is 100-kilowatt-hours, matching the top-of-the-range cars available from BMW's competitors.
The car has cutting edge 5G technology, and that's not simply to make the car talk to the internet as quickly as possible but also to future proof the car to be able to talk to "Smart Cities." And indeed, to talk to other vehicles. Wouldn't it be nice if, on a quiet street with no other cars around, the traffic lights ahead of you could talk to your car and turn green? You wouldn't have to slow down and speed up. As you know with an electric vehicle, anytime you slow down and then apply the power, you are wasting energy. Well, that's the theory behind cars connected with 5G technology, talking to smart cities and enabling more efficient use of energy to travel around.
And even with two cars, talking to one another – imagine the potential to avoid accidents if the car can communicate before the drivers can even see the other vehicle.
What is this vehicle equivalent to in length and width? Well, a BMW X5 is a similar shape, but to make this car more efficient and aerodynamic, they lowered it so it's about the same height as a BMW X6, reducing drag and extending range. The objectives of the BMW design team, back inside the vehicle, show that this is a custom-designed EV, unlike many other BMW electrics. So no central tunnel running through the cabin eating up space. Instead, it offers more legroom in the front, and more leg room and storage in the rear. More passenger comfort.
BMW like to call this a mobile living space. And one really nice touch is how to refill the windscreen washer bottle. No going inside the vehicle, pulling a lever and lifting up the hood searching for the right candidate receptacle into which to pour your fluid. Simply push down on the BMW badge on the front of the car, a container for the washer fluid will magically rise up through the hole left by that famous emblem. This car is really about making your life as simple as possible.
This is not the fastest EV on the market. It's not the most long-range SUV EV on the market, but that wasn't the objective for BMW's engineers. Putting this car against the Audi e-Tron, Mercedes Benz EQC, and Tesla Model X, and BMW feel they have raised the bar of driver and passenger experience.
This is a car, which BMW hopes Range Rover buyers will be turning their heads to look at.
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