BMW unveils its flagship electric iX SUV that will cost around £85k next year


German car giant BMW has today launched a new all-electric iX SUV that will take on the might of Tesla and other battery-powered rivals with a price tag in the region of £85,000.

Bosses say it is the most technically advanced BMW to date and has the capacity to become an autonomous vehicle, with much of its tech hidden away out of view behind the traditional kidney-shaped grille.  

The plug-in SUV was launched in tandem with an electric scooter as part of BMW’s ‘NextGen 2020’ programme to showcase the vehicles and technology it intends to bring to market from 2021.

BMW electric avenue: This is the German car giant's new flagship iX SUV, which will be on sale from next year with prices starting from around £85,000

BMW electric avenue: This is the German car giant’s new flagship iX SUV, which will be on sale from next year with prices starting from around £85,000

BMW says the iX marks a step change in the car-firm’s future direction towards intelligent mobility and self-driving technology by bringing together the car-giant’s latest development in design, automated driving, connectivity, electrification and sustainability.

It says: ‘The BMW iX is the first representative of a trailblazing generation of cars poised to redefine the driving experience.’

Equipped initially with a modest level of automated self-driving tech, it has the capability of upgrading in future.

Driven by two powerful electric motors developing 500 horsepower, the new iX accelerates from rest to 62mph in under five seconds and the top speed is likely to be electronically limited to 155mph – just like BMW petrol and diesel cars.

A high voltage 100kWh battery should allow up to 372 miles of range. That compares to the 348-mile range of the best Tesla Model X SUV.

Charging up to 80 per cent takes 40 minutes on a 200kW DC fast charger. And a ten minute burst is enough to add 75 miles of range, it says. Charging from a domestic 11kW wallbox tales under 11 hours.

Charging up to 80% takes 40 minutes using a  fast charger while replenishing the batteries from a domestic 11kW wallbox tales under 11 hours

Charging up to 80% takes 40 minutes using a  fast charger while replenishing the batteries from a domestic 11kW wallbox tales under 11 hours

The iX is powered by a pair of electric motors developing a combined 500 horsepower

The iX is powered by a pair of electric motors developing a combined 500 horsepower

The large electris SUV will be able to accelerates from rest to 62mph in under 5 seconds and the top speed is likely to be electronically limited to 155mph - just like BMW petrol and diesel cars

The large electris SUV will be able to accelerates from rest to 62mph in under 5 seconds and the top speed is likely to be electronically limited to 155mph – just like BMW petrol and diesel cars

Production is to start in the second half of next year at BMW’s Dingolfing factory in Bavaria, with sales from late November 2021. 

Although no prices have been announced, as the flagship sports activity vehicle with electric power it is expected to cost from around £85,000.

Explaining why the new flagship iX exemplifies its modest and hidden ‘shy-tech’ approach, BMW said much of the prominent trademark kidney grille – which has grown much larger in recent years with almost cartoon-like proportions – has been blanked off because the car’s electric drive system requires only a small amount of cooling air.

Instead the covered grille now conceals a host of sensors and scanners: ‘Camera technology, radar functions and other sensors are integrated seamlessly into the grille behind a transparent surface.

‘The grille has reinvented itself as an innovative and multifunctional high-tech interface for the advanced driver assistance systems with which the BMW iX paves the way for automated driving.’

A high voltage 100kWh battery should allow up to 372 miles of range in the new BMW iX, which would be class-leading if it hit the market right now

A high voltage 100kWh battery should allow up to 372 miles of range in the new BMW iX, which would be class-leading if it hit the market right now

How does it compare to Tesla? The longest-range Model X SUV is the the Long Range Plus version, which can cover up to 348 miles on a single charge. It is priced at £82,980, so it going to go head-to-head with the battery-powered Beemer

How does it compare to Tesla? The longest-range Model X SUV is the the Long Range Plus version, which can cover up to 348 miles on a single charge. It is priced at £82,980, so it going to go head-to-head with the battery-powered Beemer

Instead of providing cooling to a petrol or diesel engine, the huge kidney grille now acts as a cover to conceals a host of sensors and scanners that can be used for autonomous driving when it becomes legal in the UK in years to come

Instead of providing cooling to a petrol or diesel engine, the huge kidney grille now acts as a cover to conceals a host of sensors and scanners that can be used for autonomous driving when it becomes legal in the UK in years to come

Production is to start in the second half of next year at BMW's Dingolfing factory in Bavaria, with sales from late November 2021

Production is to start in the second half of next year at BMW’s Dingolfing factory in Bavaria, with sales from late November 2021

The firm adds: ‘The BMW kidney grille is not the only example of how the principle of shy tech has been integrated into the design of the BMW iX.

‘An array of other cameras and sensors are positioned discreetly, the door openers are flush, the windscreen washer-fluid cap is concealed under the BMW logo on the bonnet and the rear-view camera has been integrated into the BMW logo on the tailgate.

‘In each case, the technology stays in the background and only becomes apparent as and when the relevant functions are called into action.’

The car’s so-called ‘new technology tool-kit’ allows for ‘significant progress in the area of automated driving and digital services’ and enables it for the latest super-fast 5G cellular mobile connectivity – that can transmit the data in a DVD in just over a second.

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Computing power alone has been boosted to process 20 times the amount of data on previous models: ‘As a result, around double the amount of data from vehicle sensors can be processed than was previously possible,’ the German car giant states.

BMW says the iX marks a step change in the car-firm's future direction towards intelligent mobility and self-driving technology by bringing together the car-giant's latest development in design, automated driving, connectivity, electrification and sustainability

BMW says the iX marks a step change in the car-firm’s future direction towards intelligent mobility and self-driving technology by bringing together the car-giant’s latest development in design, automated driving, connectivity, electrification and sustainability

The new iX is the product of the electric BMWi division and has been developed at the firm's lightweight design and technology centre in Landshut, Bavaria

The new iX is the product of the electric BMWi division and has been developed at the firm’s lightweight design and technology centre in Landshut, Bavaria

Its green credentials are enhanced by efficient aerodynamics from its minimalist exterior which helps reduce drag and extend range, a lightweight design, and extensive use of natural and recycled materials

Its green credentials are enhanced by efficient aerodynamics from its minimalist exterior which helps reduce drag and extend range, a lightweight design, and extensive use of natural and recycled materials

BMW: ‘We’re ready for Brexit and ban on diesel and petrol cars… but 2030 will be too soon for drivers’

BMW chief executive Oliver Zipse with the new iX electric SUV

BMW chief executive Oliver Zipse with the new iX electric SUV

BMW chief executive Oliver Zipse says the brand is ready the challenges of both Brexit and the banning of petrol and diesel engines – but also fired a broadside at the Government’s ambitious electric car plans.

His comment came in response to calls from campaign group Greenpeace this week for the Prime Minister to fast-track the ban for new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars by a decade, accelerating the existing 2040 deadline to 2030

Mr Zipse questioned whether there would be enough charging points in the UK to deal with the number of electric cars on the roads that such a radical deadline would create.

‘I wonder whether it is politically wise,’ he said ahead of an expected announcement by prime minister Boris Johnson on Thursday or next week.   

‘We can cope. We are highly flexible. We will be ready, whether it is 2030 or 2035. We can produce enough cars.’

But he stressed: ‘Many individuals cannot afford a new electric car. They may not have access to a charging station. That is a social issue which has not been fully explored.’

BMW says the new all-electric iX will be a ‘trailblazer’ for more battery powered vehicles, including a fully-electric Rolls-Royce.

It says a quarter of all BMWs sold in Europe next year (about a million in total) will be electrified – either as hybrids or pure electric vehicles. That will rise to a third in 2025 and half in 2030. By 2023 the BMW Group will be selling 25 electrified vehicles.

Mr Zipse said not all countries would be setting so tight a deadline as the UK – and California – for banning sales of petrol and diesel cars and allowing only sales of new pure-electric cars.

So they had enough of a mix to cope. He insisted there was still a future for some time yet for the internal combustion engine – whatever the UK decided.

On Brexit Mr Zipse said: ‘We are hoping for the best. We hope by the end of December or early January we can come to an agreement and we can keep on doing our business without too much disruption.

’The firm has a Mini factory in Oxford, Rolls-Royce at Goodwood in Sussex, an engine plant at Hams Hall near Birmingham, and a pressings plant at Swindon.’

He added that it would be ‘helpful’ to have a presence in the country.

IT and logistics have been prepared for either Brexit outcome – deal or no deal, he said. But BMW is hoping for a deal. 

BMW development director Frank Weber said: ‘We are setting new industry standards with the technology in the BMW iX.It has more computing power for data processing and more powerful sensor technology than the newest vehicles in our current line-up, is 5G-capable, will be given new and improved automated driving and parking functions and uses the high-performing fifth generation of our electric drive system.’

The new iX is the product of the electric BMWi division and has been developed at the firm’s lightweight design and technology centre in Landshut, Bavaria.

In terms of size, BMW says the new electric sports activity vehicle is similar in length and width to the X5 and, thanks to its flowing roof line, almost the same height as the BMW X6. The large wheels are more in keeping with the BMW X7. 

Its green credentials are enhanced by efficient aerodynamics from its minimalist exterior which helps reduce drag and extend range, a lightweight design, and extensive use of natural and recycled materials. 

The electric powertrain is also constructed without reliance on rare earth materials whose supplies are being rapidly depleted.

The firm added: ‘The batteries fitted in the BMW iX are designed as part of a long term resource cycle and enable an exceptionally high recycling rate.’

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The spacious and minimalist cabin interior is stripped back and uncluttered to emphasise calm and relaxation. A mixture of high-quality materials, five newly developed seats with integral head restraints, a large panoramic glass roof are designed to create ‘a luxurious, lounge-like ambience’.

The spacious and minimalist cabin interior is stripped back and uncluttered to emphasise calm and relaxation

The spacious and minimalist cabin interior is stripped back and uncluttered to emphasise calm and relaxation

Displays and controls are all stripped down to the essentials. Technology inside is intelligent and intuitive and only becomes visible when it is needed, says BMW bosses

Displays and controls are all stripped down to the essentials. Technology inside is intelligent and intuitive and only becomes visible when it is needed, says BMW bosses

The lack of a conventional petrol or diesel engine and drivetrain means there is no central tunnel running through the cabin. Instead, there's a  flashy centre console BMW says is 'crafted to look like a high-quality piece of furniture'

The lack of a conventional petrol or diesel engine and drivetrain means there is no central tunnel running through the cabin. Instead, there’s a  flashy centre console BMW says is ‘crafted to look like a high-quality piece of furniture’

The lack of a conventional petrol or diesel engine and drivetrain means there is no central tunnel running through the cabin – adding to a spacious feeling and creating extra legroom in the front and rear, plenty of storage space and a flashy centre console BMW says is ‘crafted to look like a high-quality piece of furniture’.

Snapshot of BMW’s NextGen philosophy 

As part of its #NextGen2020 programme showcasing its latest technology, spearheaded by the new iX sports activity vehicle, BMW has:

– Opened a new hi-tech driving simulation centre in Munich with 14 simulators that reduce the number of physical prototype cars to be built and allow risky situations to be tested on screen rather than on the road

– Used technology from the gaming sector to pioneer virtual reality software that can ‘test’ cars on screen before they go into production

– Highlighted the increasing role of artificial intelligence in making cars increasingly autonomous and taking decisions – faster and more efficiently that were once the preserve of the driver. That includes: finding a parking space or fast-charger; warning that rain is falling a few hundred yards ahead; alerting the driver to impending road works or a change in speed limit.

– Developed connected systems that allow cars to ‘talk’ to one another to avoid collisions and be warned of problems on the road ahead.

– Calculated that a quarter of all BMWs sold in Europe next year (about a million in total) will be electrified – either as hybrids or pure electric vehicles. That will rise to a third in 2025 and half in 2030. By 2023 the BMW Group will be selling 25 electrified vehicles.

– Estimated that the switch to electric will save 10million tonnes of CO2 over the coming decades – about the same as a city the size of Munich generates in a year.

Displays and controls are all stripped down to the essentials. Technology inside is intelligent and intuitive and only becomes visible when it is needed: ‘The shy tech approach for the interior can be seen in a number of features, including speakers integrated out of sight, intricately styled air vents, heated surfaces and the discreet recessing of the BMW head-up display’s projector into the instrument panel so it is almost invisible.

‘The hexagonally shaped steering wheel, a rocker switch for gear selection and the BMW curved display – which forms part of the next-generation BMW operating system – signals the futuristic form of driving on offer.’

BMW chief executive Oliver Zipse said: ‘The BMW Group is constantly trying to re-invent itself. That is a central element of our corporate strategy. The BMW iX expresses this approach in an extremely concentrated form.’

Design boss Adrian van Hooydonk added: ‘The BMW iX offers a mobile living space in which people will feel at ease and the car’s intelligence is always available without becoming obtrusive.

‘The car is technologically highly complex, but it feels very clear and uncomplicated.’

While there is no claimed boot capacity, it should be relatively capacious given the hulking dimensions of the iX.

And there is also no storage space up front, despite there not being a combustion engine under the hood. Instead, the clamshell bonnet is fixed and can’t be opened.

However, to access the windscreen washer bottle located within, owners will need to push down on the BMW badge at the front and the container for the fluid rises on a spring through the hole left by the famous emblem.

Last year the BMW Group – which includes MINI in Oxford, Rolls-Royce at Goodwood, and the Hams Hall engine plant in the Midlands – sold over 2.5 million passenger vehicles and more than 175,000 motorcycles worldwide.

It already builds the electric MINI-e at Oxford and Rolls-Royce has announced it is to build a fully electric limousine within a decade.

A mixture of high-quality materials, five newly developed seats with integral head restraints, a large panoramic glass roof are designed to create 'a luxurious, lounge-like ambience'

A mixture of high-quality materials, five newly developed seats with integral head restraints, a large panoramic glass roof are designed to create ‘a luxurious, lounge-like ambience’

Can it take on the might of Tesla? Time will tell...

Can it take on the might of Tesla? Time will tell…

Is an electric SUV too big? BMW has the perfect solution for you… 

To the delight of 21st century ‘Mods’ everywhere, BMW is launching a smart new electric Scooter – complete with matching Parka.

The German firm’s ‘Motorrad’ motorcycle arm has unveiled its near-production ready Definition CE 04 which it is hailing as ‘the new style of urban two-wheel mobility’. 

BMW’s Motorrad says the scooter will become part of its iNext drive towards electric powered vehicles. While it is currently in a ‘near-series version’, the final production model will launch next year. Although no prices have been announced, it is expected to cost around £15,000 with the potential for a £1,500 plug-in grant – so around £70,000 less than the iX SUV,

If you don't need an SUV but are still hankering for zero-emission transport, this electric BMW scooter might be the answer

If you don’t need an SUV but are still hankering for zero-emission transport, this electric BMW scooter might be the answer

The German firm’s 'Motorrad' motorcycle arm has also today unveiled its near-production ready Definition CE 04 which it is hailing as ‘the new style of urban two-wheel mobility’

The German firm’s ‘Motorrad’ motorcycle arm has also today unveiled its near-production ready Definition CE 04 which it is hailing as ‘the new style of urban two-wheel mobility’

BMW said of its Definition CE 04: ‘With its electric drive, trailblazing design and innovative connectivity solutions, it sets out to redefine the scooter segment.’

It has been developed and adapted to meet ‘the everyday needs and requirements of the customer’ under the banner ‘Plugged to life’.

Alexander Buckan, head of vehicle design BMW Motorrad said having a flat underfloor battery pack meant they could be more radical and functional with the contemporary and minimalist urban design, including an eye-catching flat and ‘floating’ bench seat: ‘Maybe it will polarise opinion, but it will definitely stand out.’

Mr Buckan noted: ‘A scooter is not a ‘fun bike’ which is taken for ride in the mountains in fine weather, but a practical everyday vehicle for driving from home to the office or meeting friends in the evening – simply a vehicle for every day in the city.

‘That’s why we dealt intensively with the design of the drive and energy storage system in order to make it meet the needs of the actual user: The urban target group mainly rides short distances of approximately 7 and a half miles a day. Long-distance comfort is therefore less important than variable ergonomics and easy accessibility.

‘In this way we were able to create a floating bench seat, which allows you to glide comfortably onto the vehicle even from behind. It also offers improved ergonomics for single riders, regardless of leg length and height.’ 

The low-lying flat battery liberates space for extra storage – such as for the rider’s a helmet and other equipment. It also helps lower the centre of gravity to allow ‘playful handling and dynamic riding fun’. 

To showcase the bike’s technology, panels don’t completely cover the vehicle’s side section at the rear but instead stretch across parts of the vehicle’s side ‘like little wings’ to allow views of the drive unit, cooling ribs, and other technical parts.

Two U-shaped LED front lights exemplify the minimalist design philosophy, and the rear lights have been integrated into the rear side panels in the form of two C-shaped light elements.

Fairing panels don’t completely cover the vehicle’s side section at the rear but instead stretch across parts of the vehicle’s side ‘like little wings’ to allow views of the drive unit, cooling ribs, and other technical parts

Fairing panels don’t completely cover the vehicle’s side section at the rear but instead stretch across parts of the vehicle’s side ‘like little wings’ to allow views of the drive unit, cooling ribs, and other technical parts

This 10.25-inch digital display - if retained for the production bike - will be the biggest to ever feature on a scooter of this ilk

This 10.25-inch digital display – if retained for the production bike – will be the biggest to ever feature on a scooter of this ilk

To ensure constant connectivity, the rider can connect the bike to their smartphone. And in another tech win, the electric scooter’s 10.25-inch display is the largest in the two-wheeled segment.

In a novel twist, BMW also showcased the rider in a Parka coat and other elements of clothing have been adapted to be part of scooter’s communication system an safety system. The Parka integrates illuminated warning lights in a chevron pattern to ensure greater visibility in traffic. They can be switched on and changed in colour via sensors in the sleeve.

BMW notes: ‘To ensure that the rider is always fully charged up, the inside pocket of the parka has an inductive charging field for the smartphone.’ 

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