BMW pulled back the covers on the all-new iX last November but intentionally held back on some of the important details about its newest all-electric model. Now, with pre-orders set to begin in June, the Bavarian automaker is filling in some of the key blanks.
The distinctively styled crossover uses the fifth-generation BMW eDrive system, with a twin-motor arrangement producing a combined 500 horsepower. BMW confirmed the new iX will yield an estimated 300 miles per charge.
BMW said that it is taking steps to reduce the environmental impact at all stages of the production process, meanwhile. That starts with sourcing of lithium and other raw materials.
“Technology is driving the advances we need to tackle even the greatest challenges. This applies, in particular, to climate protection,” says Oliver Zipse, chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG. “We are in no doubt: mobility has to be sustainable if it is to represent a truly outstanding solution. For the BMW Group, premium mobility is not possible without responsibility.”
Early pioneer fell behind key rivals
BMW was an early pioneer in electrification but fell behind some key rivals after introducing the i3 all-electric city car and i8 plug-in hybrid. The iX marks the launch of a new wave of all-electric models, with news about the upcoming i4 also set to be released this week.
Internal debate contributed to the delay. Following the i3 and i8 debuts, BMW focused on platforms capable of handling a broad mix of different powertrain options, including gas, diesel and hybrid, as well as all-electric options. The automaker last year reversed course. Going forward, all-electric models like the iX, will ride on unique skateboard-style platforms.
The iX demonstrates some of the advantages. The iX is roughly the same size as a BMW X5, with a 118-inch wheelbase. With no engine up front, space normally used for the engine compartment has been repurposed, giving the iX a size-class-above interior.
The exterior proved controversial since its unveiling, starting with a massive and upright take on the familiar BMW double-kidney grille. The interior received more unanimously positive response. A hexagonally shaped steering wheel, according to BMW, “improves ease of access and gives the driver a better view of the Information display.”
The display itself, the newly introduced iDrive 8, uses a curved layout that covers much of the instrument panel and eliminates most conventional controls. While there are two separate screens — a 12.3-inch gauge cluster, and a 14.9 infotainment screen — they flow together to look like a single display.
There is glass everywhere. Even the huge panoramic roof — the largest piece of glass ever found in a BMW — relies on smart technology. Instead of a mechanical shade, it uses electrochromic shading to block out light, as occupants desire.
New batteries are lighter, longer-range
As for the drivetrain, the gen-five technology is smaller and more efficient and relies on a new, high-voltage lithium-ion pack. BMW claims it has a 20% greater energy density than its previous generation of batteries. That translates into a pack that is smaller and lighter which further enhances range.
The iX bests some key competitors, such as Audi, with its estimated 300-mile range. It lags the longer-range offerings from Tesla, however. What’s unclear is the rating system used to estimate that figure. If based on the global WLTP standard it will almost certainly come down under EPA testing for the U.S. market.
The BMW iX will take about 11 hours to fully recharge a drained battery on a Level 2 home charger. But the battery pack can handle up to 200 kilowatts using one of the latest public fast chargers. That cuts to 40 minutes the time needed to go from 10 to 80% of the pack’s capacity. And it can punch up range by 75 miles in about 10 minutes.
As for performance, a statement from BMW says the iX xDrive50 “posts acceleration of 0 to 62 mph in under 5 seconds with a top speed of an electronically governed 124 mph.”
Environmentally friendly manufacturing
While proponents hail the environmental advantages of going electric, critics contend that there are some downsides, starting with the sourcing of lithium and other raw materials.
The automaker claims it has developed “responsible (ways to use) resources minimizing a product’s carbon footprint at all stages of its life cycle.” Among other things, it is turning to renewable energy, wherever possible, in the production process. In turn, relying on recycled materials, where possible, cuts carbon emissions by 18%, said BMW.
It is working with suppliers to ensure that environmentally friendly processes are used at all stages.
BMW will open up the U.S. iX order bank this coming June. It expects to begin market deliveries in “early 2022.”