German car maker BMW has announced it will begin making the all-electric iX3 in Shenyang, China, in 2020 through its BMW Brilliance Automotive joint venture.
The German car maker has plans to sell 3 million plug-in electric cars by 2025 by achieving a 30% year-on-year increase in sales including plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models.
The iX3, which is based on the X3, will be BMW’s third electric model to reach market, following the i3 hatchback, and the electric Mini Cooper SE (now available for order).
It will be followed by the recently unveiled i4 gran coupé due in 2021, and the autonomous Vision iNext as the German car maker works towards bringing 12 electric models in total by 2025.
The iX3 – which to date has only been seen as a concept or in testing camouflage – will offer an estimated 440km driving range according to preliminary data from BMW, which expects it can achieve with 74kWh usable battery capacity using 20kWh/100km.
It will also be the first vehicle to sport BMW’s fifth generation drivetrain technology that will also be used in the i4 and iNext, and feature BMW’s latest battery technology.
BMW’s fifth generation drivetrain, which brings together motor, system electronics and transmission into one housing, has resulted in considerably less weight and an improvement in motor output to weight ratio of 30% compared to BMW’s previous generation technology.
The upshot of this is maximum power output of 210kW delivered to the rear wheels and 400Nm torque (according to the car maker’s preliminary data).
BMW is also keen to impress the reduced dependence on rare earth metals not only in its battery but also in motor production for which it says completely eliminates any such need.
In terms of battery chemistry, the iX3 is kitted with the latest NMC-811 prismatic technology from BMW which uses two-thirds less cobalt and has 20% higher energy density than BMW’s previous battery tech.
In addition to the reduced need for rare earths BMW says it has secured a transparent supply chain of cobalt and lithium, which are the subject of scrutiny due to unethical child labour practices in certain countries.
For the first time, BMW says it will procure its own cobalt and lithium supplies – which are understood to be sourced from Australia and Morocco – before handing off to battery makers to produce cells for the iX3.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.