The BMW iNEXT, the first of the next-gen BMW electric cars, is arriving in European showrooms next year. Now, production of its components has begun at the BMW Group’s Landshut plant.
The new picture above reveals the shape of the BMW iNEXT’s kidney grille, which BMW Group calls its “eye”. No, the noticeably massive kidney grille won’t house the headlamps, if that’s what you assume! The BMW iNEXT is the German conglomerate’s next technological marvel and at the core of innovations will be Level 3 and Level 4 autonomous driving capability. The core components allowing the highly automated driving are housed behind the grille, precisely why BMW Group calls it the upcoming electric vehicle’s “eyes”.
In Level 3 autonomous driving, the driver can hand the vehicle full responsibility on a highway and relax (eyes off) or perform other secondary in-vehicle activities for more extended periods. However, should there be a need, the driver must still be in a position to take control quickly (a few seconds) when prompted by the system.
In Level 4 autonomous driving, the driver can assign the task of driving to the vehicle even in urban traffic. The main difference from Level 3 is the time span for taking over control over the driving functions for a far longer period of time. So, it is possible to take the mind off and rest during long-distance journeys.
The innovative kidney grille will roll out from the Landshut plant. The integration of camera technology, radar functions and the sensors vital for highly-automated driving is possible because of this component. The same plant will be responsible for the production of critical components for the cockpit and the electric drive system. The latter will not require using rare earth materials.
The iNext is touted as one of the most technologically advanced cars released by BMW. The iNext (BMW iX as it is likely to be called) positioned at the high-end of the market is expected to be a real competitor to the Tesla Model X as BMW has announced that it will set new benchmarks in sportiness, efficiency and range in a battery-powered automobile. The new flagship product of the BMW i family is expected to be about the size of the BMW X5 and present the latest in electrification (fifth generation eDrive), connectivity (5G) and autonomous driving. The company refers to the product as the “BMW Group’s technology flagship.” Below are product renderings shared by Zer.o.wt on Instagram of the e-SUV.
Earlier this year, BMWBlog had reported that BMW will follow the approach that it does with its ICE cars in the naming of the iNext variants. Each variant would be based on the power output and therefore one would have the BMW iX xDrive40, iX xDrive50 and iX M50 xDrive models when the product is in showrooms. The website also reports that M Performance models will be valid even without internal combustion engines altogether.
When it was unveiled in 2018 as the Vision iNext, arguably, it was the kidney grille which was heavily criticized. The one-piece grille is massive stretched out from the lower bumper to the hood. It also had a mesh grille which held numerous sensors, an ‘intelligence panel,’ that BMW refers to it as. However, a change is reported to have happened to the front of the vehicle. The weird grille of the Vision iNext has been discarded following feedback, BMW’s design head Domagoj Dukec has told Autocar.co.uk.
BMW confirmed this year the production version of the iNext will get 5G tech that is developed in collaboration with Harman Samsung. A built-in SIM card in the vehicle will give the car an edge on data speed enabling fast streaming of HD videos for users and big OTA updates that are key for a self-driving (Level 3) vehicle to operate safely. The high density, low latency, super-fast download speeds and device awareness of 5G makes new capabilities and experiences possible for autonomous vehicles. It lets the car access high-resolution HD maps in real-time and V2X (Vehicle to Everything) for an autonomous vehicle to offer a safe and complete experience.
One of the other new technologies expected in the production version of the BMW Vision iNEXT concept is Continental’s Intelligent Glass Control. Though the Intelligent Glass Control feature has been available in cars since 2017, BMW will be using the technology to keep the temperature inside as comfortable as possible. BMW could equip the car with automatic sensors that will change the intensity of the tint in the windows according to the surrounding heat and light. Except for the front windscreen, all the glass panels will be equipped with this tech. Nothing has been confirmed yet from BMW but it would be interesting to see how the tech works.
With a design adopted from the BMW i Vision Dynamics, the iNext concept gets a large, interlinked double-kidney grille and blue accents. The iNext also gets a Liquid Greyrose Copper exterior paint, long wheelbase, short overhangs and large 24-inch wheels. The windscreen merges seamlessly into large panoramic sunroof that covers almost the entire roof.
The Vision iNext offers two modes – Boost mode where the customers can drive and Ease mode that enables the car to drive itself. BMW iNext concept also gets “Shy Tech” that uses three different applications in the form of Intelligent Personal Assistant, Intelligent Materials and Intelligent Beam.