BMW’s second fully electric model, the iX3, has been revealed in production form, two years after making its debut as a concept. First previewed at the 2018 Beijing motor show, the iX3 breaks new ground by being the first BMW to be produced in China for export to key world markets.
Based on the third-generation X3, the electric SUV is positioned above the i3 hatchback and introduces what BMW describes as its fifth-generation eDrive system. It features a newly developed electric motor and battery combination that provides it with 286hp and an official WLTP range of 458km.
Production of the iX3, which is the first of three new electric, i-branded BMW models due to go on sale in international markets within the next 18 months, will take place exclusively at a joint-venture factory operated by BMW and Chinese carmaker Brilliance in Shenyang, Liaoning.
Holding true to the appearance of the concept, the production version of the iX3 is differentiated from the standard X3 by a blanked-off front grille with vertical air ducts at each corner, an altered breather element behind the front wheelhouses, revised sills and a lightly revised rear bumper. Blue elements within the grille, sills and rear bumper are used to signal the iX3’s electric propulsion. Aerodynamically optimised 19-inch wheels contribute to a drag coefficient of 0.29.
Although its bodystyle might suggest it offers four-wheel drive, the iX3 is planned to be exclusively rear-wheel drive. Power comes from a rear-mounted electric motor producing 286hp and 400Nm of torque, being channelled through a single-speed gearbox.
The BMW-developed motor avoids the use of rare earth metals, boosting the environmental credentials and also reducing the manufacturing cost. Power density is said to be 30 percent greater than that of the i3’s motor. It’s also engineered to achieve its peak torque at higher sustained revs than any of BMW’s earlier motors. Sources suggest it can achieve up to 17,000rpm, compared to the i3’s 14,000rpm.
As well as featuring in the iX3, this fifth-generation motor is set to be used in a more powerful tune in the upcoming i4 compact sedan and the iNext large SUV – both of which are due by the end of 2021.
BMW claims a 0-100kph time of 6.8sec for the 2,185kg iX3 – 0.4sec slower than the 251hp, four-cylinder, turbocharged petrol X3 sDrive30i. The iX3’s top speed is limited to 180kph to protect range.
Energy is provided by an 80kWh gross (74kWh net) lithium-ion battery pack that operates at 400V. By integrating the battery within the floorpan, BMW claims to have lowered the centre of gravity by up to 75mm over the conventional X3 for enhanced dynamic capability. BMW offers a number of different charging possibilities for the iX3, including 150kW DC rapid charging for an 80 percent charge in 34 minutes.
BMW has not announced any plans regarding its plans to bring the iX3 to India yet, but it has recently launched the 8 Series in India, in both Coupe and Gran Coupe form, along with the X6 SUV-coupe. Additionally, the carmaker has also introduced a new range-topping M50d version of the X7 SUV.