The BMW iNEXT, or the BMW iX electric SUV, is arriving in European showrooms next year. Last month, the production of its components began at the BMW Group’s Landshut plant, and now, more new information has emerged. Here’s everything we know about the next generation BMW electric car.
BMW iX Exterior
We already have a good idea about how the BMW iNEXT will look like from the concept version, and in July, BMW Group revealed the grille design of the production electric SUV.
The pictures here reveal 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 “eye”.
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.
More details about the BMW iNEXT’s exterior can be seen on spy pictures published on bmwblog.com. In addition, below are speculative renderings shared by Zer.o.wt on Instagram of the e-SUV.
BMW iX Powertrain
The iNEXT is touted as one of the most technologically advanced cars released by BMW. The iNEXT 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.”
According to the aforementioned new report, BMW will sell the BMW iNEXT(BMW iX) in three variants, each with a differently tuned motor and a different capacity battery pack. The maximum power of the base, middle and range-topping variant’s motor(s) will be 230 kW (308 hp), 390 kW (522 hp) and 455 kW (610 hp) respectively. Tesla has successfully adopted this strategy of selling its Model X and other EVs in configurations with multiple output and range options.
Earlier this year, the BMW-focused website had reported that BMW would 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, BMW iX xDrive50 and BMW iX M50 xDrive models when the product is in showrooms. The website also reported that M Performance models will be valid even without internal combustion engines altogether.
BMW iX Interior
The interior of BMW iNEXT should be considerably different from today’s BMW SUVs, with a focus on minimalism and digitalisation. Spy shots published on various sites this year show a race car-style polygonal steering wheel, large virtual instrument cluster and central displays clubbed together, with the latter tilted towards the driver and a clutter-free centre console featuring sleek air vents. Most of, if not all, climate control and other comfort functions will likely be controlled via the central display.
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.
What is the release date of the BMW iNEXT/iX?
The production BMW iNEXT reportedly debuts in late-2020 and goes into production in the second half of 2021. First markets are looking at late 2021 launch timeline.