The novelty will go on sale in a year, it will gain 100 km / h in less than five seconds, and inside it will have an octagonal steering wheel, a curved monitor and fancy electronics with 5G support.
The BMW Vision iNext concept debuted in 2018, and then the public only discussed its provocative design. As we already know from the 4 Series coupe and the charged M3 / M4, the giant “nostrils” are no longer a bad dream, but an alarming reality – so the serial crossover, which was named BMW iX, is almost not shocking.
And in general, in comparison with the prototype, the appearance has become much calmer, and the “nostrils” here have a rather unusual function. They are solid, that is, they are not intended for cooling radiators, but they cover an array of cameras, radars and other sensors necessary for semi-autonomous driving. Moreover, they are made of “self-healing” material: small scratches should heal by themselves in 24 hours at room temperature. Another unusual feature is the soundtrack, written by Hans Zimmer. The Oscar-winning composer invented a special “voice” for the car, with which it accelerates and brakes, because complete silence is unsafe, primarily for pedestrians.
The iX itself is a fully electric crossover, similar in size to the BMW X5. The Bavarians do not report the exact dimensions, except for the length of the wheelbase: it is exactly three meters, which is 25 mm more than that of the X5. From the design details, you can answer frameless doors without handles (they open at the touch of a button), as well as the thinnest headlights among all production BMWs: they will be LED by default, and for a surcharge you will be given matrix optics and laser high beam.
The iX is driven by two electric motors, one for each axle, and the calculated total power exceeds 500 horsepower – the exact values have not yet been determined, since the car is still under development. The creators promise overclocking to a hundred within five seconds, and unofficial sources say that other versions are planned: one weaker, by 300 with a small force, and the other more powerful than 600.
According to the same data, the younger version will travel about 400 kilometers on a single charge. But the official information says that the top-end BMW iX with a 100 kilowatt-hour battery pack will be able to cover more than 600 km in the WLTP cycle, while the charging time from 10 to 80% should take 40 minutes. A significant contribution to the range, according to the Germans, is also made by sophisticated aerodynamics: with a drag coefficient of only 0.25, they managed to win about 65 kilometers of distance. About which, however, is not specified. But the Bavarians promise in 2022 to start production of their own batteries at the plant in Dingolfing and, thereby, become the first company to independently produce all elements of electrical power plants.
The championship is also declared in the field of on-board electronics: the iX will be equipped with a 5G cellular modem, thirty different antennas, countless sensors and powerful processors that can process huge amounts of data in real time. Crossover systems are said to pass up to 30 gigabits of information per second at peak load – more than the capacity of a single DVD.
Moreover, the BMW iX will not think only for itself – it will become part of the collective mind. Using the same 5G modem, traffic data is sent to a central server, where a neural network, based on information from other similar crossovers, gives hints about the recommended settings at the current time. Simply put, if one iX is suddenly hit by a pothole, the next one will already know about it in advance and preemptively soften the suspension. It sounds fantastic, but the engineers are confident that this will really improve comfort, safety and economy.
However, technology should not go to the fore: on the contrary, the Bavarians are trying to hide them from users, that is, drivers. For example, the interior is executed in a minimalistic style: an absent central tunnel, a minimum of buttons and levers, disguised audio system speakers, thin ventilation deflectors – and a pair of digital displays.
The central one, with a diagonal of 14.9 inches, is curved and installed as if it were hanging in the air: the mounts are masked from passengers. Nearby is a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, and in front of it is an octagonal steering wheel symbolizing the transition to a new era of driving. The Bavarians say that it is still convenient to intercept it, but at the same time LED indicators are built into the rim, indicating manual or automatic mode of movement. The BMW iX will be equipped with a third level autopilot – that is, it will be able to drive independently, for example, on the highway, without requiring the driver to constantly keep his hands on the steering wheel.
Constant connection to the Internet and communication with the central “cloud” with a capacity of 230 petabytes means that the Bavarian electric crossover will continuously learn and receive software updates – in particular, the multimedia system, which the creators already call the most convenient and safe in the world. However, customers will be able to check all this only in a year: the start of production is scheduled for the end of November 2021. Around the same period, the i4 model – the electric version of the 4 Series – will begin to roll off the assembly line, and by 2022 the Bavarians are planning to reach the mark of half a million electric vehicles annually.