BMW is testing the iNext EV
The BMW iNext has begun testing in prototype guise in northern Sweden prior to a planned start to Australian sales in 2021.
The new SUV, which was revealed in concept car form at last year’s Los Angeles auto show and is expected to take the iX5 name into production, is an advanced electric-powered SUV featuring what the German car maker’s chairman Harald Kruger describes as revolutionary autonomous driving, communication and service functions. It will form part of an extended line-up of 12 dedicated pure electric powered BMW models, including the upcoming production version of the smaller iX3 and a mid-sized four-door coupe-cum-sedan model known as the i4, which Kruger says will be launched before 2025.
The prototype pictured testing at BMW’s cold weather engineering centre in Arjeplog, Sweden, features a number of key visual differences from the earlier iNext concept.
Despite wearing disguise, the prototype’s front end appears to house a more conventional grille and LED headlamps than the largely conceptual elements featured on the concept.
The bold wheel arches have also been toned down, although the large wheelhouses have been retained in a move BMW insiders have revealed to Drive will allow the production version of the iNext offer the option of 22-inch wheels.
Other changes include the adoption of B-pillars for structural integrity, conventional front-hinged doors both front and rear, standard rear-view mirrors and a more traditional glasshouse.
Inside, the new electric powered BMW SUV is planned to offer seating for up to seven occupants in three rows of seats.
To be produced at BMW’s Dingolfing factory in Germany from 2021, the iNext is described as a technological flagship incorporating the highest level of the company’s future orientated ACES (Autonomous driving, Connectivity, Electric driveline technology and Services).
“BMW now has ten years of experience with electric mobility in both small- and large-scale production. The next step is the complete in-car integration of the fields of autonomy, connectivity, electric and services,” says Kruger.
Specifications relating to the iNext’s driveline remain have not yet been made public. However, it is planned to receive more advanced lithium-ion battery cell technology than that used by the existing i3, BMW’s sole pure electric powered model on sale today, for a projected range over 700km.
Based around a further developed version of the CLAR (cluster architecture) platform already used by a number of more conventional internal combustion engine BMW models, the new SUV is also expected to support both rear and four-wheel drive with electric motors mounted both front and rear.
The CLAR platform used by the iNext has also been conceived to incorporate a new autonomous technology that Kruger says will eventually offer Level 5 autonomy functions allowing driverless urban travel.BMW showcased three prototype autonomous driving processing units at the Los Angeles motor show in November 2018, the smallest of which it said would be launched in 2021 on the production version iNext, offering Level 3 autonomy at up to 80mph during highway driving.
By 2025, BMW plans to offer 25 electrified models, including 12 featuring pure electric drive.
Kable is one of Europe's leading automotive journalists. The Aussie expat lives in Germany and has some of the world's most powerful executives on speed dial.