Full electric mobility arrives at BMW
The Concept iX3 shown in April at Auto China 2018 in Beijing provides a glimpse of the BMW brand’s first pure-electric model due in 2021. The electrified “fully fledged Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV)” is part of BMW Group’s NUMBER ONE > NEXT strategy, with a future model kit for electrification now being developed for vehicles like the Concept iX3 under the banner iNext.
Electric mobility also means a differentiation in design. Identifying features of the Concept iX3 include a closedoff kidney grille with familiar i car graphic, i blue accents around the kidney, brand logo at the front, and along the side skirts, and a diffuser element in the same color integrated in the rear apron. The concept’s lightalloy wheels have an aerodynamically optimized design.
On the SAV front, BMW hybridization has been going on for nearly a decade. The 2009 ActiveHybrid X6 had a fullhybrid drive system. The current X5 xDrive40e iPerformance made its debut in 2015 as the BMW’s first plugin hybrid model. Model highlights include gasoline combined consumption of 3.4-3.3 L/100 km, electric power combined consumption of 15.4-15.3 kW·h/100 km, combined CO2 emissions of 78-77 g/km.
A key innovation of the Concept iX3 is the fifth-generation BMW eDrive technology, which builds upon the plugin hybrid drive systems of BMW iPerformance models and Mini Cooper S E Countryman ALL4. The latest version of the eDrive technology is distinguished by its extremely compact design. The electric motor, transmission, and power electronics are now grouped into one unit, making it easier to integrate into different vehicle architectures. The Concept iX3’s fifthgeneration electric motor generates maximum output of over 200 kW. Another notable detail is an electric motor design that does not use rare earth elements, which means the design is not dependent on their availability. The subcomponents’ modular construction enables them to be adapted to each application’s required performance level and available space.
A modular design approach also applies to the nextgeneration highvoltage battery packs. Application of BMW’s i experience and its expertise in cell technology and design has enhanced overall battery performance, energy content, charging capability, and durability. Its modelspecific highvoltage battery has a net capacity of over 70 kW·h for a range of more than 400 km (249 mi) in the WLTP cycle. The energy-storage system’s optimized charging capability includes a newly developed Charging Control Unit designed to be hooked up to fastcharging stations generating up to 150 kW for a full charge in just 30 min.
Combined with new, more powerful batteries, the technology package launching in the SAV EV is said to bring considerable advances in terms of performance, operating range, weight, packaging space, and flexibility.
Flexibility is also an oft used descriptor for production and architecture design by the BMW Group.
It says its international production network is set up to provide a high level of flexibility, in particular for the production of models with electric-drive systems. Currently, electrified vehicles are already rolling off assembly lines at ten BMW Group locations around the world. Electric drive components for these vehicles are supplied by production facilities in Dingolfing (Germany), Shenyang (China), and Spartanburg (U.S.). Dingolfing also plays a leading role as the network’s electric drive system center of expertise, but the BMW Brilliance Automotive joint venture in Shenyang will produce the future production version of the Concept iX3.
BMW says that many of its future vehicle architectures will also become more flexible and be able to not only accommodate all types of drive configurations (from front and rear to allwheel), but also varying propulsion types (from pure combustion engine, plugin hybrid drive system, or battery electric) could be integrated into nearly any future model. The BMW X3, on which the concept vehicle is based, is one of the first models whose architecture demonstrates this flexibility. In addition, the concept features a specially developed rear axle subframe and specific chassis integration.