With time still to go before expected US market launch in early 2022, and with the series development phase ongoing, BMW provided a first look ahead at the future BMW iX. With its completely newly developed design, the electric BMW iX is the first representative of a generation of cars intended to redefine the driving experience, the feeling of space inside and the relationship between vehicles and those on board.
The BMW iX is the first model based on a new, modular, scalable architecture on which the future of the BMW Group will be built. Conceived from the outset as purely electric mobility, the iX sees BMW redefining the successful Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) concept.
The design and technology of the BMW iX form an integrated package that lays the foundations for what is in many respects a new kind of driving experience. In so doing, it embodies the character of the BMW i brand, the mission of which is to transform personal mobility.
The BMW iX will go into production at BMW Plant Dingolfing in the second half of 2021 and is scheduled to arrive on US shores in early 2022. The iX will bring together the company’s latest developments in the strategic innovation fields of Design, Connectivity, Electrification, Digital Services and Sustainability. This is reflected in areas of the car such as its optimized aerodynamics, intelligent lightweight Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic design as well as extensive use of natural and recycled materials.
Fifth-generation BMW eDrive technology. The fifth generation of BMW eDrive technology—which encompasses two electric motors, the power electronics, the charging technology and the high-voltage battery—delivers improved efficiency and performance. The power unit developed by the BMW Group and manufactured sustainably without the use of rare earth raw materials will, by the most recent calculations, develop an output of around 500 hp. That will be enough to propel the BMW iX from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in under 5.0 seconds.
At the same time, the vehicle’s aim is to deliver a lower combined electric power consumption figure which equates to a range of 300 miles according to the EPA’s FTP-75 test procedure. (All figures relating to performance, energy consumption and range are predicted values based on the car’s current stage of development.)
200 kW DC fast charging. The new charging technology of the BMW iX enables DC fast charging at up to 200 kW. The battery can be charged from 10 to 80% capacity in under 40 minutes. In just ten minutes, enough energy can be fed into the battery to increase the car’s range by around 75 miles. It takes less than eleven hours to charge the high-voltage battery from 0 to 100% at 11 kW Level 2 charging station.
The batteries fitted in the BMW iX are designed as part of a long-term resource cycle and allow for a very high recycling rate. The power used to produce the battery cells and the high-voltage batteries comes exclusively from renewable sources.
New iX technology architecture underpins further advances. The new technology architecture making its debut in the BMW iX provides the platform for significant progress in the areas of digital services and future automated driving systems. For example, the level of computing power has been developed to process 20 times the data volume of previous models. As a result, around double the amount of data from vehicle sensors can be processed than was previously possible allowing for more advanced future assist systems.
Optimized aerodynamics for increased range. For years, the BMW Group has reduced fuel consumption and emissions to great effect with Efficient Dynamics. In the BMW iX, this strategy is implemented in a new way that defines the vehicle’s character, encompassing not just the ultra-efficient electric drive system, but also optimizing its aerodynamic properties and weight. Reduced air resistance and intelligent lightweight design are both important contributory factors to the all-electric SAV’s range.
The car’s handling qualities and the level of cabin comfort benefit directly from the reduction in drag and the bodywork structure with its aluminum spaceframe and Carbon Cage. One notable difference compared to conventionally powered BMW X models is the positioning of the A-pillars much further forward. The extremely compact design of the eDrive technology paves the way for the shorter front end and the extra space this brings inside the BMW iX.
Capitalizing on the benefits provided by the all-electric drivetrain and implementing proven measures from the past serves to optimize the aerodynamic properties of the BMW iX, which in turn has a positive impact on both its performance and range. The low aerodynamic drag can be attributed to not only the streamlined body, the tapered glasshouse, flush-fitting door handles, extremely slender exterior mirrors and precisely designed aerodynamic aids, but also to a host of other careful design measures. As a result, the BMW iX boasts outstanding aerodynamics for its class, with a drag coefficient (Cd) of just 0.25.
The aerodynamic elements for the front end, rear end, underbody and wheel areas alone add over 40 miles (WLTP measurement) to the car’s overall range. Some 16 miles (WLTP measurement) of this can be attributed to the third-generation active air flap control at the front of the vehicle, which directs cooling air to the drive units and brake system when required.
In normal driving situations, both the BMW kidney grille and the air intakes at the bottom of the front bumper are completely sealed off. This default setting allows the air to flow around the vehicle unhindered, significantly reducing aerodynamic drag. The electronically controlled air flaps are only fully opened in the rare case that the maximum amount of cooling air is required. The flaps can be adjusted gradually, allowing cooling air to be directed efficiently to the brake air ducts and drive components in carefully metered quantities.
On models with the Sport package, the air flaps are complemented by carefully engineered apertures in the outer areas of the front bumper which optimize the airflow along the vehicle. These vertically arranged Air Curtains divert the airstream in such a way that it flows along the faces of the wheels without generating the customary turbulence. The way in which the glasshouse tapers towards the back combines with specially designed air deflectors to reduce aerodynamic drag at the rear. Here, vertical Air Blades on either side of the rear window and the roof spoiler combine to form a sharp aero edge that minimizes the amount of vacuum produced behind the vehicle and its negative impact on aerodynamics. The combined benefits of the Air Curtains and Air Blades extend the car’s range by approximately 9 miles (WLTP measurement).
Another drag-reducing feature on the BMW iX is the sealing measures of the underbody. Spanning the largest area between the front and rear axle is the smooth aluminum casing of the high-voltage battery, which is located low down in the vehicle floor. At the front end, streamlined elements direct the oncoming air past the wheels to prevent adverse turbulence. Airflow along the rear is smoothed by the large rear axle cover and the rear bumper’s diffuser. All other underbody components are optimized in terms of their aerodynamic impact. Overall, the aerodynamics measures for the underbody of the BMW iX account for around 6 miles (WLTP measurement) of its long range.
Intelligent material mix: combining weight reduction and maximum rigidity. The aluminum spaceframe body structure of the BMW iX is a first for its segment. The materials selected and manufacturing processes increase body rigidity and crash safety while keeping weight as low as possible.
Remarkably light yet extremely rigid Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic components in the body’s side, rear and roof areas form a key element of the safety concept for the BMW iX passenger cell. The CFRP components for the side frame, rain channels, roof frame, cowl panel and rear window frame combine to form a “Carbon Cage”. The BMW Group has employed its many years of experience in working with CFRP—amassed during production of the BMW i models and the current BMW 7 Series—to use CFRP intelligently to reinforce the body while also saving weight and improving vehicle agility. The Carbon Cage has evolved from the Carbon Core used in the 7 Series and allows the beneficial qualities of this high-tech material to be appreciated visually as well.
Fitting a lightweight CFRP side frame instead of a conventional steel part shaves several pounds off the vehicle’s weight. The cowl panel and rear window frame components are manufactured from continuous fiber-reinforced thermoplastics (CFRTP) using an all-new method. Together, they constitute an effective lightweight design. The innovative blend of materials forms the basis for an exceptionally slim profile that adds to the sense of spaciousness in the cabin. The CFRP used in the side frame and at the rear end lends an added visual appeal to the BMW iX: the carbon components’ recognizable fiber structures clearly stand out in the entrance area and when the tailgate is open, providing a reminder of the car’s high-tech character.