BMW has just released details of its upcoming fully electric iX sport activity vehicle (SAV), which will arrive in North America early in 2022, shortly after its market launch in Europe at the end of 2021.
The production version of the Vision iNext concept vehicle that made the rounds on the auto show circuit the past couple of years, the iX “is currently still in the series development phase,” says BMW.
When it does arrive, it will be as the first model based on a new, modular, scalable architecture on which the future of BMW will be built, “redefining the successful SAV concept” — no pressure there.
It’s not quite ready for prime time, but this isn’t stopping the automaker from boasting its “new technology flagship” with come with a long list of innovations in the fields of design, automated driving, connectivity, electrification and more, including new levels of sustainability through the extensive use of natural and recycled materials.
While most technical information is being withheld until much closer to the iX’s launch date, BMW has released a few key details regarding the SAV’s powertrain. It will feature the fifth generation of BMW eDrive technology, which encompasses two electric motors, power electronics, charging technology and the high-voltage battery. The power unit will develop more than 500 horsepower (370 kW), enough juice to propel the iX to 100 km/h in less than five seconds. Said power unit, says the company, has been manufactured sustainably without the use of raw materials known as rare earths.
As for range, BMW says the iX should reach 600 kilometres in the European WLTP cycle, which equates to about 500 kilometres according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s FTP-75 test procedure. And the SAV’s charging technology enables DC fast-charging at up to 200 kW, meaning the battery can be charged to 80 per cent of its full capacity – from 10 per cent – in less than 40 minutes.
As well, the company says that within 10 minutes enough energy can be fed into the battery to increase range by more than 120 km. Using a Level 2 charger, it will take about 11 hours to top up the high-voltage battery to 100 per cent.
The design of the iX, both exterior and interior, is distinctly BMW, yet equally distinctively reimagined. Size-wise, says Adrian van Hooydonk, senior vice-president of BMW Group Design, the vehicle is comparable with the X5 in length and width and almost the same height as the X6 “on account of its flowing roofline.”
The front end is defined by the prominent, vertical kidney grille, but, since the electric drive system requires only a small amount of cooling air, the grille is completely blanked off; its role has become digital. Camera technology, radar functions and other sensors are integrated into the grille behind a transparent surface.
Other exterior design highlights include the slimmest headlight units ever featured on a production BMW, flush-fitted door openers that are operated at the press of a button, and frameless side windows. Incorporating what BMW calls “shy tech,” the filler neck for the windshield washer fluid is concealed under the BMW logo on the hood and the rear-view camera is integrated into the BMW logo on the tailgate. “The technology stays in the background and only becomes apparent as and when the relevant functions are called into action.”
The five-person cabin, meanwhile, was conceived as “a loft on wheels,” says van Hooydonk, “something fairly reduced, a cozy seating arrangement, a large flat screen and not much more. (It) is probably the most complicated vehicle BMW has ever built, but it is exactly this kind of technology that has allowed us to reduce the interior design dramatically.”
“We were able to reduce the (number) of switches. Things like ventilation have been minimized and the screen has grown in size and has touch functionality.”
Other elements include a hexagonally shaped steering wheel, a rocker switch for gear selection, and the BMW Curved Display, which forms part of the next-generation BMW Operating System.
As there is no centre tunnel, the additional room allows extra front- and rear-seat legroom, more storage space, and a centre console crafted to look like a high-end piece of furniture, complete with micro-switches and a cut-glass controller.
Clearly, BMW is not the only manufacturer on a mission of electrification, improved sustainability and increased autonomy.
But, when asked about the iX’s competition, Frank van Meel, who heads up the product line of BMW’s luxury division and its flagship Rolls-Royce brand, offers up this pithy rejoinder: “We don’t comment about our competitors. But as a Dutchman from a nation of people who sail the seas, I can say this: We are orienting ourselves at the stars and not at the beacons of other ships.”
This content was originally published here.