A little over two years ago, we got our first look at BMW’s next-generation battery-electric vehicle architecture. Concept has now moved into the realm of reality with the official unveiling of the BMW iX. Set for a US launch in early 2022, the iX uses two electric motors capable of producing 500hp (368kW) to propel the SUV from 0 to 100km/h (62mph) in under five seconds.
Despite the lack of an internal combustion engine, the iX looks unmistakably like a BMW, massive black grille and all. It’s roughly the same size as the X5, but there are a couple of interesting design choices that make it stand apart from its SUV brethren. First off is the hood—or lack thereof. Unlike just about every other BEV on the market, there’s no frunk. As a matter of fact, there’s not even a hood to open. This curious design choice means that you add windshield wiper fluid by pressing down on the roundel badge above the grille, which pops open to reveal the fluid container. The grille itself is completely closed off, with lidar, camera, and radar tucked behind a translucent surface underneath the grille.
The other odd choice is a hexagonal steering wheel. BMW claims it makes getting in and out of the iX easier while providing a better view of the dashboard display, but I’m not sold on the concept. The steering wheel isn’t the only difference between the iX and X1-7 cockpits. Instead of having separate displays for the instrument panel and infotainment panel, BMW has combined the two into what appears to be a single massive display that is angled toward the driver. The 14.9-inch infotainment display can be controlled by touch in addition to the usual center console dial.
The big question with any BEV is range. While the iX should be capable of a WLTP range of around 600km (372 miles), BMW says EPA estimated range will come in right at 300 miles. The company says the battery capacity is somewhere north of 100kWh but hasn’t given an exact number, and it also quotes a (WLTP) power efficiency of 21kWh/100km. When your iX is running low on electrons, you’ll be able to charge at up to 200kW, which will get you from 10-percent to 80-percent capacity in just under 40 minutes. Your typical home 240V charging station will be able to fully charge the car in under 11 hours. BMW is also partnering with EVgo, which has a network of over 800 fast-charging locations in the US.
While BMW got into the EV game back in 2013 with the i3, the BEV competition has leapt out in front of the Bavarian carmaker over the past several years. Porsche, Jaguar, and Audi have all made significant BEV commitments—and those cars are both good and fun to drive. And don’t forget about the 800lb gorilla of BEVs, Tesla. And by the time the iX is available for purchase, you’ll be able to choose from (likely) lower-priced Fords and Volkswagens. That said, BMW drivers are a famously loyal bunch, and the iX provides a pathway to electrification for X3-X6 owners who want an ultimate driving experience powered by batteries instead of fossil fuels.
Pricing for the iX will be announced as the SUV approaches its anticipated early 2022 launch in the US.
Listing image by BMW