BMW Concept iX3 Ushers In A New Era Of Electric Bimmers In Beijing

BMW has, until now, kept its electric vehicles apart from its main lineup. But with the debut of the Concept iX3, it’s bringing them into the fold .

Unveiled at the Beijing Auto Show, the iX3 forecasts a fully electric version of the German automaker’s compact crossover. (Or “sports activity vehicle,” in Bimmer corporate parlance.) And while it’s billed as a concept, it previews a production version to follow. A proliferation of them, in fact.

The concept is clearly based on the production X3 that was just revealed in its third iteration last summer. But without any fossil fuels combusting inside, most of the intakes and vents in the bodywork have been closed off. That leaves it with a more streamlined (dare we say “futuristic”) appearance. Even the grille is blanked out, but the frame remains – albeit with a modified shape. The separate twin kidneys that have historically characterized the front end of all Bimmers have merged here into one shape. The result, to our eyes, starts to look more like Kia’s tiger-nose grille design. And it may come as a bit of a shock to traditional Bimmerphiles.

270 Horsepower For 250 Miles

The real novelty here, though, is what’s behind that grille (functional or not). The iX3 packs an electric powertrain good for 270 horsepower (200 kW). That’s a little more than the conventional gasoline X3 xDrive30i model and the diesel xDrive30d, but less than the top M40i. With a 70-kWh battery, BMW says it will go for 249 miles (400 kilometers) under the new Worldwide Harmonised Light-Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP). And hooked up to a 150-kW quick-charger, it’ll charge up in just 30 minutes.

Potentially more important than the specs of BMW’s fifth-generation electric powertrain is what the manufacturer will be able to do with it. Integrating the electric motor, transmission, and control module into one component, it’s designed to be both lighter, and easier to swap into a wider variety of vehicles. And that includes models originally designed for internal-combustion engines. The powertrain also does without any rare earth metals, whose scarcity has been a major impediment in the widespread adoption of electric power.

BMW has already confirmed that it will build a production version of this concept through its joint venture with Brilliance Automotive in Shenyang, China. No word on other markets just yet, but we won’t be surprised when something like this starts rolling off the line in Spartanburg. Beyond this model, though, we can expect the same approach to be applied to other models in BMW’s core range. Those will serve to bridge the gap between the automaker’s iPerformance plug-in hybrids and dedicated electrified models like the i3 and i8.

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  • Kash

    This is what automakers should be doing with EV’s, slap battery packs and electric motors to their existing cars. This looks far better than the i3.

    • Matt

      Except that unless the platform was developed with EV’s in mind, it will always be a packaging compromise.

      • Carenthusiast

        You make a good point there and I’m sure clever Germans would’ve definitely thought about that!

      • CJKnox

        Matt I think he means that EV’s didn’t have to be so ugly. Just like BMW designed the i3 they could’ve rerouted that money and create a vehicle less ugly.

    • Andrewthecarguy

      I like the i3 just fine.

  • Gen Flauta

    Why do they steal Kia’s grille. Seems that BMW is running out of ideas for the double kidney grille designs. Smh

    • Matt

      Or did Kia steal BMW’s grille but then just add a piece in the middle?

      • Nefiu Ci

        Nope

  • Nordschleife

    The concessions/style changes made for electric aerodynamics make this unattractive looking to me.

  • PhilMcGraw

    KIA stole a whole bunch of BMW and Audi designers and engineers, and now it looks like BMW is finally returning the favor.

    Jokes aside, even though I know this model will be cheaper than the Jaguar I-Pace, it should be noted that Jaguar is able to crank out 394hp and go 240 miles. I guess I was at least expecting more range from BMW, something around 300 miles or more. But then again, it is a regular SUV and all of the weight that goes with it that it’s hauling.

    • fathornyblackandjoe

      I think you’ll be able to buy them with different sized batteries for different ranges. I think they’re announcing it with the small battery in order to boast about the recharge time–the iX3 can recharge at 150kW, so the 70kWh battery can be charged up in 30 minutes (larger charge acceptance rate + smaller battery = less time to recharge). The Jag may have a larger battery (90kWh), but with a much “smaller” charge acceptance rate (only 7kW), it will take 13 hrs or more to recharge.

      • Bob

        30 minutes is fairly impressive. Is this a step in the right direction?

    • The 249 miles is on the new and much more strict (and hence realistic) European cycle, the WLTP. The Jags figures are given with the laughable (old European) NEDC cycle.

  • Bob

    I hate this design much less than I thought I would. It’s not bad.

  • Car Design Fan

    The good news – it’s much less Kia than expected.
    The bad news – it’s not a proper BMW face.

    When you have something as iconic, distinguished and well designed in your hands – don’t change it!

    It’s like Mercedes will take one line off their star, or Apple adding another bite to their apple. It’s simply not done.

  • TheBelltower

    I like the new X3, so I’m sure this will be very good also. But if this is what BMW is planning, invest in Tesla now…

    Smaller than the X
    Less HP compared to the X
    More expensive base price than the X
    Very conventional compared to the X
    Non existent network to support the claimed 150kwh charge rate
    Built in China
    Not available for two years

  • Tumbi Mtika

    Uhh, guys?

    You didn’t finish the faux grille. It’s okay, but a bit Kia in the front.

  • Toronado_II

    I expected more from a “i” family. Tis is just a facelift X3.

  • TrevP

    Just swap out the grill, de-badge it and new rims will make it look better, but still not as good as one with an engine.

  • SteersUright

    Cool tech, ugly car.

  • no25

    I think it would actually look really good without that connected grille! BMW, are you guys struggling so much for a new design language that you decided to mock KIA of all brands?

  • ErnieB

    It’s official.. BMW has lost it.. and I agree it looks very Kia-ish..

  • MarketAndChurch

    It would look a lot closer to the sketch if this was the size of the X5

  • Jason Panamera

    Finally KIA made good looking SUV.

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