Munich (dpa) – Two years after unveiling the iNext concept vehicle, BMW unveiled the fully electric luxury SUV for the first time, as it should be, at showrooms in November next year.
The company’s new “flagship of technology” is called iX and, in the words of CEO Oliver Zipse, “marks the beginning of a new era at BMW.”
Wednesday’s premiere took place online. The iX is said to be “the first premium vehicle equipped with the 5G mobile communications standard” and can transmit 30 gigabits of data per second. However, the driver cannot read the newspaper while driving: if he lets go of the wheel, he must keep looking at the road. BMW postponed the original goal of allowing the car to be driven autonomously according to the Level 3 standard for a few years. Because the lidar sensors installed today cannot face far enough to drive completely independently and safely on the highway.
At first glance, the iX looks like the X5. The length and width are identical. Behind the giant kidney at the front are the sensors, the steering and the electric motor for the front axle. It is no longer possible to look under the hood, it is screwed tight. The headlights and taillights are extremely narrow. The steering wheel is square. “If the vehicle is driving alone and you ask the driver to take the wheel again, that way you can better see which is the direction,” explained Franciscus van Meel, product line manager Rolls-Royce and BMW Luxury Class.
Where the dash used to be, a wide screen sits loosely on the windshield window sill. The car becomes a living space, for example, if it’s stuck in traffic for hours, Zipse said. “We were more inspired by a living space than by car construction,” explained BMW chief designer Adrian van Hooydonk. “We think of the car in reverse.” Technology takes a backseat on the iX, operation becomes easier. The up to 30 speakers are invisible. When the driver says, “I’m cold,” hot surfaces get hot.
The price is at the level of a combustion engine with a comparable engine, he said. With 500 CV that would be around 95,000 euros. “We are not building a car that is not profitable,” Zipse said.
The market segment is very interesting, said industry expert Stefan Bratzel. “I hope BMW can attack there.” So far, the Audi e-tron and Tesla Model X have been the best in luxury-class electric SUVs – the Mercedes EQC and Jaguar i-Pace have a hard time. But it will be exciting to see if Mercedes can take a production vehicle with Tier 3 capability to the road next year, Bratzel said.
BMW wants to score points over the competition with low consumption and electric range: here the iX sets standards with an energy consumption of less than 21 kilowatt hours per 100 kilometers and a range of more than 600 kilometers according to the WLTP standard. With a coefficient of drag of 0.25, the large SUV has even less air resistance than the BMW i8 and many other sports cars.
At two and a half tons, it is the heaviest BMW of all time, despite the aluminum and carbon in the body. In the group, only the Rolls-Royce weighs more. “But the aerodynamics of the electric car is more important than weight,” van Meel said. The important details for the low air resistance are the wheels, the sloping roof line and the narrow foot of the exterior mirrors, van Hooydonk explained.
With a 40 minute charge time at a fast charging station, the iX is within the normal range. It takes 11 hours in a normal charging station. The electric SUV will also be available with a trailer hitch for caravans, Dutch van Meel said.
The iX was developed in Munich using computer game technology and simulators like those used in aviation. During “test drives with a car that doesn’t even have a prototype,” “designers and developers were able to experience the vehicle in virtual reality just as the driver would later,” said Michael Bartvogel, director of BMW Driving Simulation. Cobblestones, full acceleration, emergency braking, each movement is translated by the simulator, which moves a mass of 84 tons. “We had very dynamic curves that made the occupants feel bad in the simulator.” BMW dealerships, as well as “typical customers in the segment, including drivers of competing vehicles,” drove in the simulator for the developers and made suggestions.
The iX is the third fully electric BMW after the small i3 and the iX3 SUV and will be built in Dingolfing from summer 2021. Zipse sees no competition in it for the X5 with diesel, gasoline or hybrid drive: “The iX should not replace X5 “. The market segment is wide, “there is a lot of space. I don’t think they can cannibalize themselves. “