BMW has shown a firm commitment to electrification over the past decade, but now the German automaker is ready to take things to the next level. And the first step in this push, is its latest fully electric concept, the iX crossover.
Unveiled on Wednesday, the Sport Activity Vehicle (SAV) has already been declared the marque’s next-generation “technology flagship.” And it’s easy to see why, as the prototype offers a litany of cutting-edge features, 500 horsepower and an equally impressive 300-mile range.
Although still in the development stages, the iX is the same size and shape as the ultra-popular X5. But that’s where the similarities to the automaker’s current crop of internal-combustion SUVs ends. Instead of smooth shapes and soft corners the prototype features a sharp and bold look like that of the i4 concept that debuted this spring. This means there are dramatic aerodynamic elements from the front bumper to the rear hatch, bold black accents and, most noticeable of all, a giant kidney grille just like the one on the new 4 Series. These touches give the vehicle a more modern appearance, clearly setting it apart from BMW’s other crossovers.
Just as striking as the exterior is the iX’s minimalist cabin. The interior of the SAV looks more like the simplified cockpit of a cartoon spaceship than that of a luxury vehicle. Specifically designed to maximize space, the interior has been trimmed of nearly every extraneous detail, meaning the dash features a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster behind the steering wheel, a center-positioned 14.9-inch curved touchscreen infotainment system and that’s it. Meanwhile, the center console features the automaker’s iDrive controller and a rocker switch in place of a traditional gear shifter.
Of course, as stylish as the iX concept may be, BMW isn’t referring to it as a flagship because of how it looks. That designation is due to in no small part to a high-performance powertrain expected to compete with the likes of Tesla. While full details haven’t been released just yet, the EV’s powertrain consists of two electric motors, one on each axle, and an underfloor-mounted battery pack with a capacity over 100 kWh. The two-motor setup should be able to churn out around 500 horsepower and push the car from zero to 60 mph in under five seconds.
Just as impressive is a targeted range of 300 miles, something the brand believes is achievable even under the EPA’s notoriously tough testing standards. That would immediately make the iX one of the longest-range vehicles on the road. Additionally, the EV will support DC fast-charging rates up to 200 kW. Thanks to this you’ll be able to add 75 miles of range in just 10 minutes, go from 10-percent to 70-percent capacity in 40 and completely fill the battery in 11 hours. Though fast chargers are still rare, this would likely do away with any range anxiety you may have, even on a cross country road trip.
Unlike most concepts, including the i4, BMW already has plans to put the iX into production. And you won’t have to wait long, either, as the automaker is scheduled to start building its new SAV during the second half of next year. If the automaker can stick to that timetable, expect the iX to arrive in dealerships by the beginning of 2022.