BMW will put the Vision iNext in production in 2020, and it shall be the first that’s based on a new platform designed for use in ICE, plug-in hybrids and purely battery powered vehicles.
This will enable BMW not only to be more flexible with future models, but even build cars with different propulsion systems on the same production line.
The radical new platform will underpin every future BMW model from the 3-Series upwards, enabling the German car maker to build cars even with a rear-engine configuration, Autocar reports.
BMW Group wants to build all of its future cars on just two platforms; one for the more affordable front-wheel drive models and one for the more expensive rear- and all-wheel drive cars.
The production version Vision iNext will be based on the latter, as it will feature a rear mounted electric powertrain as standard. Plug-in hybrid models will get both a rear-mounted electric motor and a transversely mounted internal combustion engine at the front. Traditional ICE models will retain the classic rear-wheel drive, front-engine layout.
Inside sources said that the maximum range for pure battery-electric models could reach up to 450 miles (724km), while the plug-in hybrids will offer an electric range of around 60 miles (100km).
Of course the new modular platform will incorporate new autonomous-driving technologies, which will eventually allow future BMWs Level 5 autonomy, meaning there’s no need for a driver. The first step however will the Level 3 self-driving system that will appear in the production version of the iNext, offering a “hands off, eyes off” autonomy up to 80 mph (130 km/h) on motorways.
BMW will start testing Level 4 and Level 5 autonomous systems in 2021 with a fleet of development cars.