It’s been a while since BMW pushed out an all-electric vehicle. The i3 was launched in 2013 and things has been relatively quiet atÂ Bavarian Motor Works ever since. However, the brand maintained that more i-badged vehicles would arriveÂ once it gets EV production costs under control, stating that its next electric would be theÂ iX3 crossover.
Arriving in Beijing this week in concept form, the vehicle looks refreshingly like a production model â€” with a few stylistic touches separating itself from BMW’s core fleet. You might even mistake it for a refreshed X3, and that’s kind of the point. For the most part, the company’s initial foray into electrification served to test the market’s willingness for such vehicles and act as a bit of a spectacle. That’s not to be the case with the new batch.
BMW wants the upcoming EVs to have more mainstream success than the i3 or i8, and normalizing them is a big part of that.Â That’s also the reason it chose to base the next one on the high-volume X3.
Due out for 2020, the iX3 looks to be competitive, too. BMW claims at least 270 electric horses and estimates about 250 miles of range (using the WLTP cycle). That effective operating area is slightly better than both the Jaguar I-Pace and base trim Tesla Model X, despite the iX3 possessing a smallerÂ 70 kWh battery pack. It’s also capable of 150 kW fast charging.
Using BMW’s fifth-generation eDrive technology, the electric crossover also obliterates the i3 in every area that doesn’t involve tight parking spaces. Presumably, that hardware will eventually migrate to that vehicle’s successor â€” which is rumored to be an electrified version of the X1 crossover called the iX1, tentatively slated for production in 2022. TheÂ iNext and i4 are also in the mix, although nobody seems to be able to pin down a timetable for either.
BMW is heading in a smart direction with its EVs, even if it’s not leading the charge for electrification. The iX3 retains a lot of the styling that sets the i-brand apart (black and blue trim, unique faux grille, etc.) while taking on theÂ looks of its gas-powered brethren.
Since the vehicle is still a ways away from becoming a reality, BMW hasn’t confirmed price, but we already know they don’t want to slap consumers with a fine for going electric. That was one of its biggest concerns last year and a major reason why it didn’t pursue EVs more aggressively. It’ll definitely be more than theÂ $41,000 X3, though.
Production should commence in China in 2020, with concrete specs arriving beforehand. However, we’re not expecting much change in the interim. BMW appears to have delivered a totally believable automobile with specs that seem totally possible within the next two years.
[Images: BMW Group]