Unveiled yesterday in Beijing, the battery-powered, 200kW/400km-range iX3 was introduced as the “first model from the BMW brand to be driven purely by electric power”, even though it wears the “i” badge of the carmaker’s electric car sub-brand and taps some of the technology developed inside its EV skunk works.
The largely derivative – apart from the co-joined kidney grilles – iX3 features what BMW describes as its fifth-generation electric drive system that features new and more powerful batteries, while its motors do not rely on expensive rare-earth metals. “A key benefit of this electric drive technology of the future is the grouping together of the electric motor, transmission and power electronics within a new, separate electric drive component,” it said. “This fresh package of technology brings considerable advances in terms of performance characteristics, operating range, weight, packaging space and flexibility – and will be making its debut in the purely electrically driven SAV.”
Yep, chuck in a set of batteries, and the traditional Sports Utility Vehicle morphs into the Sports Activity Vehicle, hinting that BMW’s long-held drivers’ car ethos is front of mind with its electric vehicle development. BMW says the iX3 is an important part of the development of its “future model kit”.
“The transfer of the drive system technology originally developed for BMW i cars into vehicles from the BMW Group’s core brands is entering a new dimension here,” BMW said..
“Fully electrified vehicles of the core brand will in future bear a BMW i brand logo. This is visible in the concept vehicle both in the side and in the rear. BMW eDrive technology today already is part of the plug-in hybrid drive system employed by the BMW iPerformance models and Mini Cooper S E Countryman ALL4.
“In the BMW Concept iX3, the next, highly integrated development stage of this technology delivers all-electric mobility. The future series-production version of the electrically powered SAV will therefore also benefit from the technological basis underpinning the powertrain of the BMW iNext, due to be presented in 2021.”
This iNext will likely use the architecture teased in the iX3. “The future will see the company’s flexible, further developed vehicle architectures accommodating all types of front-wheel, rear-wheel and all-wheel drive,” BMW said. “This will pave the way for models from all the company’s brands to be equipped with different drive system variants. And that means a pure combustion engine, plug-in hybrid drive system or battery-electric solution can be integrated into any model, as desired.”
That’s nothing new, with Euro rivals including Audi, BMW, Volvo and Volkswagen already flagging they are developing similar one-size-fits-all solutions to the problem over how they will package all their future alt-fuel solutions. “The BMW X3, on which the concept vehicle is based, is one of the first models whose architecture demonstrates this flexibility,” it said. “In addition, the BMW Concept iX3 features a specially developed rear axle subframe and specific chassis integration.”
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What is new is that the components needed for electrification will come mainly via BMW’s partnership with Chinese car brand Brilliance, although BMW’s US manufacturing hub will also get a look-in on the technology.
BMW said the Concept iX3 represented “another milestone on the road to locally emission-free driving under the BMW Group’s electrification strategy”. “And so a Sports Activity Vehicle once again blazes a trail for a new and groundbreaking form of BMW’s fabled driving pleasure,” it said. Okay...