Published on March 26th, 2019 | by Steve Hanley
March 26th, 2019 by Steve Hanley
BMW has three all new electric cars — the iX3, i4, and iNext — teed up and (almost) ready to launch. It has just released the first photos of the trio being put through their paces in northern Sweden where their electric drivetrains are being studied to make sure they are up to the rigors of driving in bitter cold conditions.
What is most striking about the photos is how utterly normal the three look. No “Hey, look at me, I’m electric!” styling like the i3 and i8. Normal people like cars that look normal and normal people are the ones who will make the buying decisions that will move the electric car revolution forward.
First up will be the iX3, an all electric compact SUV that strongly resembles the current production X3. It will be built in China and exported to the rest of the world. It is reported to have a range of 249 miles in the WLTP testing cycle and will be capable of 150 kW charging for rapid replenishment of its battery. Pricing has not yet been announced.
Next up will be a very conventional looking sedan — the i4 — which the company calls a 4-door coupe. Low rear roof lines are all the rage these days as manufacturers try to entice customers into showrooms with sleek, swoopy cars. That design element may be sexy and it may help lower wind resistance but it makes getting in and out of the back seat more difficult for those who want to actually ride back there.
The big news about the i4 is a claim by BMW that it will have 600 kilometers of range as measured by the WLTP cycle. That translates to 372 miles, although the EPA range may be about somewhat lower — somewhere between 34o and 350 miles seems likely. Its 0 to 100 km/h is touted as 4 seconds, so under 4 seconds for the dash to 60 mph.
It’s not as fast as a Tesla Roadster 2.0, but still adequate for most people’s driving needs. Top speed is said to be 124 mph, according to Autoblog. Production is scheduled to begin in 2021 in Germany. Presumably if the iX3 offers 150 kW charging, the i4 and iNext will as well, but that has not been confirmed by the company.
The third new all electric offering from BMW will be the iNext, an SUV that also sports 600 kilometers of claimed range, although how the more boxy shape of the iNext can offer exactly the same range as the sleek i4 is puzzling. In any event, it appears to be somewhere in size between an X3 and an X5 with more rugged styling than either. Like the i4, it will be built on the very latest all electric chassis from BMW.
BMW says the iNext will be its “technology flagship” featuring advanced connectivity and Level 3 autonomy — true hands off driving in certain driving environments such as limited access highways. It also undoubtedly offer all the premium interior appointments the company can cram into it and a price to match. It will be built in Germany beginning in 2021.
There is little doubt BMW can build competitive electric vehicles. The question is whether it can sell enough of them to make the investment it has made to develop these cars worthwhile. For the answer to that question, we will just have to wait and see.