BMW Gave Its iX EV Two Motors And 500hp, But Not A Body To Love

Social media commentators have turned on BMW, yet again, for the styling of its all-new, groundbreaking iX all-electric (EV) SUV.

Months after the German premium automaker was turned on for its M3 and M4 models, and then just weeks after it drew heat for its 4-Series coupe’s design, BMW’s design department is in the social-media crosshairs again for its iX EV.

While BMW’s full-frontal EV surge began with last month’s iX3 SUV, BMW has for years promised that the all-new iX would deliver the total measure of its EV, artificial intelligence, capacity to be recycled, infotainment and assisted-driving abilities.

The BMW iX EV will arrive late next year with more than 560 horsepower, EPA range beyond 300 miles and will haul to 62mph in less than five seconds.

It will have an electric motor on each axle, with more power on the rear end to give it a sporty feel on the road.

But Twitter, Instagram and auto website comment sections are alight about just one thing: design.

Far from the adventurous (but still controversial) iNext concept car it comes from, the iX is unashamedly “monolithic”, according to BMW.

This approach, headlined by an enormous beaver-toothed grille on a car that doesn’t need one, lost BMW control of the narrative on the cleanest car it has ever built, and the one upon which it is pinning its EV future.

BMW had hoped this was the car to succeed the i3 (from which it gets its extended-tang glasshouse treatment) and show the world every new piece of technology in its armory, from Level 3 assisted-driving technology to artificial intelligence and from 200kW charging capability to 5G readiness.

According to its own product planning, the iX will take on the Audi e-tron Quattro, the Mercedes-Benz EQC and both the Tesla Model S and Model X and, in China, the Nio ES8.

In Europe, the iX will have more than 600km of range on the Worldwide Light Vehicle Harmonized Test Protocol, with efficiency of around 21.5 kWh/100km, and capable of harvesting 120km of range in just 10 minutes.

There’s even a tri-motor prototype running around Bavaria with more than 710hp, so there are strong hints that more EV performance is on its way from BMW.

“The BMW Group is constantly striving to re-invent itself. That is a central element of our corporate strategy,” BMW Chairman Oliver Zipse insisted.  “The BMW iX expresses this approach in an extremely concentrated form.”

BMW hasn’t announced the full details of the iX, but it will have roughly the same footprint as the X5 SUV and weigh more than 2500kg.

But BMW has grown tired of defending its controversial designs, with its social media team’s tolerance clearly worn down by the equally controversial new 4-Series coupe and the M3 and M4 models.

Its design division, headed by former Chris Bangle protégé Adrian van Hooydonk, insists the iX’s “innovative use of forms redefines the successful BMW Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) concept”. It goes on to claim credit for its “muscular exterior proportions”, “flowing roofline” and “reduced surfacing”

One of the last cars signed off by retired BMW development boss Klaus Fröhlich, the iX has been pilloried for its simplistic bodywork, with almost every comment on its own official Twitter channel being negative.

It has taken to defending the design with vigour, insisting people are commenting on it, so it has evoked an emotional reaction, and that’s good.

Even BBC Top Gear presenter Chris Harris weighed in on the action, asking: “Things worse than the way that BMW iX looks? The fantastically-patronising BMW social media hippies!”

And for all that work on the high bonnet line, the SUV shape and that extraordinary grille, there’s still no frunk (front trunk) luggage area, because BMW has closed off the front clamshell trunk permanently. The only thing that opens is the BMW logo on the nose, and even then it’s only to top up the windshield washer fluid.

The shame of it is that the reaction to the exterior of the iX has overwhelmed the rest of the work BMW i has done here.

This is the car that throws BMW headlong into the EV scene after seven years of having its toe in the water with the experimental i3 and the hybrid i8 sportscar.

Unlike the rest of the electric BMWs to come in the next four years, the iX follows the i3 script by sitting on an aluminium spaceframe chassis with a composite safety cell, with lightweight panels.

BMW’s plan for the rest of its EVs is to have them share the FAAR (front-drive-based) and CLAR (rear- and all-wheel drive) architectures, along with gasoline, diesel and plug-in hybrid powertrains.

The clever part of the iX’s production engineering is that it will be built initially on the same Dingolfing, Germany, production lines as the 5-, 6-, 7- and 8-Series BMWs, then the Spartanburg production lines in the US that deliver the X3, X4, X5, X6 and X7 models to the world.

That alone indicates that, despite its unique chassis platform, the iX will use plenty of shared suspension modules, like the strut front end and the five-link rear suspension from the weighty X7.

The iX3 SUV, which is already on sale in Europe, sits on the CLAR architecture, and so will the upcoming EV version of the second-generation 4-Series GranCoupe, which will be called the i4.

BMW will offer a range of battery sizes (right-sizing, in BMW speak), but will begin with more than 100kWh in charging capacity for its fuel tank.

The EPA FTP-75 test cycle gives it an unconfirmed range beyond 300 miles, with the use of the 210kW iX3’s current-excited synchronous electric motors claimed to deliver great efficiency not only on the road, but in whole-of-life measures as well.

With no rare-earth minerals in the lithium-ion batteries (with lithium supplied by Australia and Morocco), BMW has forced its suppliers to use green power to produce its batteries, saving 10 million tonnes of CO2 a year.

That’s all good, because the iX has rivals that deliver far more range.

BMW claims the iX will accept 10 percent to 80 percent recharge in less than 40 minutes, or 75 miles of EV range in around 10 minutes.

At this specification the iX takes the modular powertrain of the iX3 and lifts it further, because the iX3’s 80kWh battery pack and the iX’s pack is “more than 100kWh”.

The downside of the bigger fuel tank is that the battery alone will weigh more than 650kg, and BMW admits the car will be “at least 2.5 tonnes”.

The upside is that the batteries are modular and at least 96-percent recyclable, with each individual cell able to be accessed easily.

 “Technology is driving the advances we need to tackle even the greatest challenges. This applies in particular to climate protection,” Zipse said.

“We are firmly convinced that mobility has to be sustainable if it is to represent a truly outstanding solution. For BMW, premium mobility is not possible without responsibility.”

Outside

The BMW iX will arrive with two different design “packs”, with either standard or sports styling. Neither of them is pretty.

The introductory level uses the same wheel and tyre package to the gigantic X7, plus some oddly aero-optimized rims, so expect 22-inch alloys with 275/40 rubber.

BMW claims the exterior design is “calm” and “monolithic” on the outside and it has at least one clear links to the ground-breaking BMW i3 EV via the glasshouse tapering off to a tang on the C-pillar.

It sports the thinnest headlights BMW has ever used, with full LED or optional Matrix Laser lights, and there are LED tail lights, too.

But all anybody is talking about are its graceless proportions and that grille.

Almost totally closed over, the grille is a radar receiver and it also hosts cameras and other sensors, and even has a self-healing technology that can repair minor scratches in 24 hours at room temperature.

And it looks like either a pair of cuddling pineapples or two slabs of checkerplate.

The doors are frameless and BMW claims there has been a huge focus on aerodynamics, to the point where the drag coefficient is down to 0.25, which is draggier than the Mercedes-Benz S-Class or the Tesla Model 3).

Inside

If you can make it past the exterior, the interior is like an oasis. It’s lovely.

Like the i3, it delivers a homey interior that is striking, practical and innovative interiors in the car industry.

The materials are terrific, with swathes of Alcantara, and the full floating instrument cluster is a masterpiece of design.

The most controversial part of the five seater’s interior is an all-new hexagonal steering wheel. Yes, hexagonal.

It will hold the rocker switches for gear selection and control the information in the new 14.9-inch curved instrument cluster, which has been hidden from the front passenger. It’s so over the top that it even has three-stage, steering-wheel heating…

It’s governed by a next-generation operating system that tilts in favour of simplicity and minimalism, even down to the operation of its 2.5-zone automatic climate control system.

“No other user interface on the market can be operated as simply and as safely as ours,” BMW’s director of development Frank Weber said. “In the BMW iX we have taken this to a new level with a new digital vehicle platform.”

BMW talks a lot about Shy Tech, a play on words alluding to high tech that remains in the background unless it’s needed.

It has the largest glass panoramic roof in the BMW universe and it’s uninterrupted by bracing (thanks to the strength of the composite safety cell) and can there is even an electro-chromatic option.

The sound system is a huge step forward, with the options of integrating speakers into the seats and even hiding them invisibly in the interior panels. The top-level Bowers & Wilkins surround sound system delivers 30 speakers into the iX’s cabin, including eight in the headrests.

Artificial Intelligence

A new generation of AI means a new generation in on-board computing.

The iX’s computing power processes 20 times more data than any current BMW model, which it will need as it moves towards the self-driving that BMW hints at for the iX, but never reveals other than to say it’s Level 3-capable.

Its sensor suite has improved so much that the iX has to process double the amount of data than any BMW before it.

“The BMW iX has more computing power for data processing, more powerful sensors than the latest vehicles in our current portfolio, is 5G-capable, and comes with new and improved automated driving and parking functions are maintained and used by the powerful fifth generation of our electric drive, ” Weber said.

Besides being 5G capable, the iX’s computer system can process more than 30 Gigabytes of data a second, and it has more than 30 antennae to send and receive information.

It’s capable of filling up a DVD with data every second, and it needs 5G to transmit that data to the AI swarm.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaeltaylor/2020/11/12/bmw-gave-its-ix-ev-two-motors-and-500hp-but-not-a-body-to-love/