BMW’s 500-hp iX SUV Flagship Completes the German EV Trifecta11/11/2020
BMW has no plans of ceding ground in the EV market to Mercedes, Audi or Tesla. Its Vision iNEXT electric SUV has moved from concept form to the testing phase. It’s now called the BMW iX and is the company’s EV flagship going forward. It’s eDrive technology produces about 500 hp. It goes on sale in early 2022.
The BMW iX rides on a new modular, scalable architecture, according to the company, and has a predicted range of about 300 miles. Electric motors on each axle power all four wheels; 0-60 mph takes a bit less than 5 seconds.
The iX enables DC fast charging at 200kW and the battery can be charged from 10 to 80 percent in less than 40 minutes. BMW says that in 10 minutes, drivers can get back 75 miles of range. Overall, it charges fully in 11 hours on a Level 2 charger. BMW is also partnering with EVgo. It claims to be the nation’s largest public fast-charging network and the U.S.’s first powered by 100% renewable energy. All payments are done through BMW’s mobile app.
The new EV is about the X5’s length but is lower like the X6. Obviously, we get a new interpretation of BMW’s kidney grille in front along—it looks like the new 3- and 4-Series—with slim twin headlights. Since this is an EV the grille is completely closed off; personally, I think that’s a better look than no grille at all, but I’m sure everyone has thoughts.
BMW now needs the real estate for other things. Cameras, radar and other sensors find a home there, as do heating and cleaning systems to keep those sensors clear in any weather. The grille also has several coatings to protect it. One uses lasers and “a precisely defined combination of material and layer thickness to optimize radar performance.” The other is a self-healing polyurethane able to repair minor scratches “within 24 hours at room temperature or through a five-minute supply of warm air.” Cool stuff here, and very useful going forward.
The BMW iX gets a panoramic glass roof, using two huge glass panels and three layers of film in between. That stops UV rays when clear and offers shade at the touch of a button. Shade mode is activated automatically when the iX is parked.
The iX gets full LED headlights with adaptive LEDs optional. The sculpted hood features the Roundel logo, opening to accept washer fluid. And here’s something new: “the hood does not have an opening mechanism for use by the customer; the drive systems and power electronics can only be accessed by workshop technicians.”
That is a big deal, and something BMW did with the i8 sports EV. The question then becomes, “is this an anomaly, or a look to the future of all cars?” We’ll hope it’s the former but assume it’s the latter. Even if there is only an electric motor under the hood, I might still want to look at it. Flush door handles, frameless windows, slim mirror bases and new taillights complete the exterior look.
With anything EV, a ton of time is spent optimizing aerodynamics for those extra miles of range. BMW moved the IX’s A-pillars forward, increasing the cabin size. It also tapered the glass house, closed off the underbody, added lower air flaps, those flush door handles and slim mirrors and came out with a drag coefficient of 0.25. For reference, the sleek Tesla Model 3 is at 0.23. BMW says those advantages were good for 40 extra miles on the European test cycle.
To save weight and add range BMW used an aluminum spaceframe body structure with a bunch of carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) components in the side, rear and roof areas. The cowl panel and rear window frame components use continuous fiber-reinforced thermoplastics, which is similar to CFPR, but doesn’t require carbon fiber.
With the moved a-pillars and no driveshaft tunnel the iX should feel cavernous inside. The squircle wheel sticks out in front of two big, curved screens while a glass rotary dial controls the operating system (BMW didn’t call it iDrive). Beside the heat vents, the iX also gets warmth from radiant heat. A head-up display projects needed info on the windshield.
New seats feature integrated head restraints as opposed to sliding up and down on posts, and the seat adjustment buttons are on the door like Mercedes…and my old Mercury Grand Marquis. There are several trims offered for both the seat and seatbelt color. In the rear is a split-folding three-passenger bench.
With the 20-times improvement in processing power from the iX’s computer, expect all the safety features you’re used to right away, and semi-autonomous driving features in the near future.
We’re still way too early for pricing, as this vehicle is still undergoing testing. But the iX will have a lot of EVs to contend with when it launches in 2022. The Audi e-tron and Mercedes-Benz EQC are both near $66,000. So we expect the price to land near that.
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