New electric vehicles are laden with technology and have ranges of up to 300 miles.
BMW has already experimented with electrification with plug-in hybrids, the city-friendly i3 small, and the eye-catching i8 sports car, but these two new pure EVs are aiming for the mass market, with vehicles that can be appreciated by anybody, everywhere.
BMW unveiled a pair of electric cars today, known as the BMW i4 and BMW iX, which promise to bring tons of tech, and about 300 miles of range to the very heart of the market. Beyond that, the automaker promises a sustainable approach to its EV production, keeping its carbon footprint as small as possible.
Powerful motors and large batteries but worrisome range
The i4 sport sedan is set to arrive in two forms, the mainstream eDrive40 and a more powerful, sporty M50 model. The eDrive40 uses a single motor powering the rear axle, putting out 335 horsepower and 317 lb-ft of torque.
The M50 pictured below is the first pure EV from BMW’s high-performance M division and features all-wheel-drive with a combined 536 horsepower and 586 lb-ft of torque. While the eDrive40 model is meant to be a subdued, luxury sport sedan, it still manages to hit highway speeds from a standstill in just 5.7 seconds, while the more hardcore M50 model will do the deed in 3.9 seconds.
Providing the juice for these vehicles is a battery with over 80 kWh. Using an 11 kW charger, it’ll take 7.6 hours to recharge the i4 from 0-100 percent, though using a DC Fast Charger will significantly speed things up.
BMW estimates it will take just 31 minutes to charge from 10 to 80 percent, thanks to a peak charge rate of 200 kW. The automaker is estimating that the eDrive40 model can travel up to 300 miles on a single charge, while the M50 is expected to have a range of 245 miles.
The BMW iX is a more family-oriented vehicle, with a length and width that’s slightly larger than the X5 SUV. Dubbed the iX xDrive50, it features all-wheel-drive thanks to an electric motor for each axle. With 516 horsepower and 564 lb-ft of torque, the iX is sure to be quick reaching highway speeds in under 5 seconds.
All of this is made possible by a battery pack with a capacity of more than 106 kWh. An 11 kW charger takes 11 hours to charge the battery from empty, but a fast charger with a charge rate of 200 kW charges the iX from 10 to 80 percent in around 40 minutes. It is projected to have a 300-mile range.
It should be observed that the i4 and iX model ranges appear to be rather conservative and unimpressive. The recently announced Ford F-150 truck is estimated to have a range of 300 miles (with a full bed), while Tesla promotes a few models with ranges much above 300 miles.
Tech features (and also some gimmicks)
These BMWs are the newest in luxury, with a fully-equipped, high-tech interior full of convenience and safety amenities, as well as a few gimmicks. To begin, BMW’s iDrive infotainment system has been upgraded to version 8 and now features Apple Maps and Android Auto functionality.
Perched atop the dash is a massive curved panel that combines a 12.3-inch gauge cluster with a 14.9-inch infotainment panel. Those who have a casual connection with their automobile can utilise speech recognition to execute a number of activities using BMW’s Intelligent Personal Assistant.
The cars have 5G connection and can be upgraded remotely over the air, but the Digital Key Plus, which lets owners with Apple iPhones to use their mobile device as a key, will debut on the iX. The digital key can also be distributed to others. The internal camera, which can be used to shoot photographs throughout your travel using a voice command, a touch button, a self-timer, or even automatically when one of the passengers smiles, sounds like a gimmick in the iX. Perhaps more importantly, this feature can be used remotely if the owner wants to know if they forgot something inside the car, or to take a picture of a thief when the vehicle’s alarm is triggered.
BMW is also emphasising its safety and driver assistance features, detailing the automotive debuts of its 8 MPix camera and its front-mounted radar system with 300 yards of range, both of which are found in the iX rather than the i4, which makes sense given that the family-sized vehicle is significantly more expensive than the sedan.
The i4 and iX, like previous BMWs, have several packages of driver aid options available, however none appear to have hands-free driving capabilities like Cadillac’s Super Cruise or sophisticated driver assistance like Tesla’s Autopilot. The iX does have a cleaning and warming system for its radar and camera systems mounted at the front of the vehicle, which should allow for better reliability in poor conditions.
Style and luxury
The outward appearance of the two automobiles is conservative, while the inside design is cut down and minimalistic. Both cars have frameless doors, however the iX has flush door handles that are incorporated into the door surfaces.
The i4’s controls and layout are comparable to the existing BMW 4-Series, but the iX has made a few unusual decisions, such as employing touch-sensitive surfaces on open-pore wood and crystal controls for the infotainment system and gear selection.
Sustainability and availability
BMW’s approach to EVs is centred on sustainability. The electric motors in the i4 and iX do not employ fixed permanent magnets, which reduces the requirement for rare earth metals, according to the carmaker. The batteries contain less than 10% cobalt, and the lithium is derived from hard-rock resources in Australia, according to BMW, ensuring a high standard of sustainability and human rights. The i4 and iX production factories in Munich and Dingolfing employ green hydroelectric electricity generated locally.
The BMW i4 eDrive 40 is the most cheap of the three vehicles, costing $55,400 in the United States, while the i4 M50 will cost $65,900. The higher-priced BMW iX begins at $83,200. These cars are expected to go into production this year, with a high-performance iX following in 2022.