BMW has lifted the lid on its “new technology flagship” with the global unveiling of the all-electric iX SUV, a production version of the Vision iNext concept that is due to come in to the market at the end of 2021 – including in Australia.
The unveiling on Wednesday (EU time) has been part of the fanfare surrounding this week’s #NextGen event, a “streamcast” in which the German automaker channels its inner Tesla and shares its thoughts on ‘the next chapter in the future of mobility.’
And the reading is quite impressive. Specs for the iX include more than 600km of range, 0-100km/h in less than 5 seconds, recharging of up to 120km in 10 minutes, and DC fast-charging offering between 10-8 % recharge in less than 40 minutes.
At the heart of the iX, according to the literature, is the fifth generation of BMW eDrive technology, which encompasses the car’s two electric motors (up to 370kW), its power electronics, charging technology and 100kW high-voltage battery.
BMW says latest predictions say the electric drive system will exceed 370kW/500 hp and an “exceptionally low” combined electric power consumption figure of less than 21kWh per 100 kilometres in the WLTP test cycle (the most relevant method at market launch).
The car’s battery, which BMW says has a gross energy content of more than 100 kWh, enables a range of more that 600km in the WLTP cycle, based on the car’s current stage of development.
The makers of the iX also claim “outstanding aerodynamics,” thanks to a drag coefficient of just 0.25 that translates “most clearly in the form of significantly increased range,” BMW says.
“The bespoke aerodynamics measures for the front end, rear end, underbody and wheel areas alone succeed in adding over 65 kilometres (40 miles) to the range of the BMW iX,” the company said in its NextGen presentation.
On the outside, BMW goes for “expressive but not overloaded,” which apparently includes a “monolithic” chassis form and a vertically aligned kidney-shaped grille, and the “narrowest twin headlights ever mass-produced by BMW.”
On the inside, BMW notes in its NextGen presser that the iX is the company’s first car to have been developed using gaming technology, via the car maker’s 2015 collaboration with Epic Games, the name behind the obscenely popular smash hit, Fortnite.
“What does gaming sensation Fortnite have to do with the BMW iX?” The car maker asks. “The most successful computer game of recent years – it recorded 350 million players in May 2020 – and the BMW Group’s new technology flagship … [both] used Unreal Engine from Epic Games in their development,” it answers.
“We took the development of the BMW iX in totally new directions,” said Frank Weber, member of the board of management of BMW AG, Development.
“For example, we used innovative technologies from the gaming industry to visualise the interface between design and technology as realistically as possible. The BMW iX is the first car to be developed using the game engine we modified.”
Another feature BMW is keen to play up is the use of the “shy tech” principle, which the car maker says comes into play once you climb aboard the iX, in terms of technology that remains largely in the background and only reveals its function when being used.
“The Shy Tech concept puts the occupants at the centre of attention and lets the technology take a back seat until it is needed: invisible intelligence that is reflected in very special and unique details throughout the BMW iX,” the Australian website says.
The interior looks pretty sleek in the images, and not too busy, aside perhaps from an eye-catching hexagonally shaped steering wheel – making its debut in a BMW, apparently.
“The BMW Group is constantly striving to re-invent itself. That is a central element of our corporate strategy,” said BMW chair Oliver Zipse. “The BMW iX expresses this approach in an extremely concentrated form.”
“Technology is driving the advances we need to tackle even the greatest challenges. This applies in particular to climate protection,” Zipse added. “We are firmly convinced that 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.”
Production of the BMW iX will begin at BMW Plant Dingolfing in 2021, the car maker says.