BMW has eased into the electric future, starting with the BMW X5 I Performance – it’s first plug-in hybrid – back in 2015. Fast forward a few years and here we are looking at the BMW iX3 Concept, an X3-based, all-electric SUV (or SAV as BMW likes to call it) that features the brand’s fifth-gen electric drive system, modular batteries, and some i-specific design cues that we’ll surely see when the iX3 goes into production. As a concept that’s practically ready to roll off the production line, there’s a lot to talk about, so let’s get to it.

BMW iX3 Concept Exterior

2018 BMW iX3 Concept Exterior
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The one thing that really sticks out is the fact this concept is based heavily on the BMW X3.

The one thing that really sticks out is the fact this concept is based heavily on the BMW X3. And, it should be, as it’s basically the same thing with an electric drive system. With that in mind, there isn’t a whole lot that sets the iX3 apart from is gas-drinking brethren. It features the same body lines and same profile as the X3 and the same headlights. What makes it stand out is the front end where an all-new fascia comes into play along with a new, closed off grille and a revised air dam. The rear end stands out just a bit thanks to a slightly different rear fascia and a new diffuser that features blue accents.

The most interesting thing about the entire exterior of the concept, however, is up front. First off, you should notice that BMW strayed away from putting those fake vents in the corners. The brand decided to go with thin, vertically oriented vents that actually give the front end a revitalizing and advanced look. The next important thing to note is that grille. Sure it’s closed off and is actually a single-piece unit, but it’s still highly identifiable as a BMW. It also features that blue backlight that seems so typical among electric cars from all manufacturers.

BMW iX3 Concept Interior

2018 BMW X3 High Resolution Interior
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Considering the fact that it’s based on the current X3 production model, you can bet the interior is exactly the same, sans a few minor details.

BMW has remained absolutely silent about the interior of the iX3, and we’ve yet to get a glance inside. Considering the fact that it’s based on the current X3 production model, you can bet the interior is exactly the same, sans a few minor details. First off, as an electric vehicle, the iX3 should be equipped with an all-digital instrument cluster that provides important information regarding driving range, state of battery charge, navigation information, speed, trip distance, among other things. This will probably be a modified version of the now-optional 12.3-inch digital display available on the current model. It could grow in size, however, but BMW may save that for larger electric models down the road.

Expect to see that 10.2-inch touchscreen display to carry over with some minor software updates. It could also be offered as a larger unit if BMW really wanted to as there is room for it above the center stack, but I wouldn’t hold my breath for that. Heated and Ventilated seats are probably included as is the optional ambient lighting and carpet illumination system – all of these features will probably be standard on a production model too. There’s just something about a little glow that screams EV for some reason.

As far as storage space, your guess is as good as ours. BMW’s fifth-gen electric drive system is compact, but 70 kWh batteries aren’t exactly small either. The standard X3 offers 550 liters of storage space with the rear seats in place or 1,600 liters with the seats down. With a battery pack in tow, you can expect the storage space to drop a bit, with the production version concept and upcoming production version offering around 1,300 liters of cargo room at most.

BMW iX3 Concept Performance and Range

2018 BMW iX3 Concept Exterior
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This concept feature’s BMW’s fifth-gen electric drive system, known as eDrive.

This is where all of the important stuff lies. This concept feature’s BMW’s fifth-gen electric drive system, known as eDrive. Its design allows for things like the electric motor, transmission, and power electrics to all be grouped together. It’s modular and scalable, as is the platform the iX3 is based on. To put things simply, the eDrive system found in this concept can be adapted to a number of different models, regardless of size. Larger motors can even be incorporated into bigger vehicles as can a larger battery pack. The same underpinnings and electric drivetrain will be found under the skin of the BMW iNext when BMW introduces it in 2021.

As far as this concept is concerned, it’s equipped with a 70 kWh battery that is said to be good for as much as 249 miles (400 km) on the WLTP scale. The electric motor, on the other hand, is said to be good for “more than” 270 horsepower. There’s no word as to whether or not it features xDrive AWD or whether it’s front- or rear-wheel biased, but chances are it’s probably predominantly rear-wheel drive while the production model ill offer up the option for all-wheel drive. Other performance figures remain a secret for now, but we’ll certainly learn more once the iX3 Concept moves closer to production.

Final Thoughts

2018 BMW iX3 Concept Exterior
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The BMW iX3 comes off as a good representation of BMW’s plans to shift into the EV market.

The BMW iX3 comes off as a good representation of BMW’s plans to shift into the EV market. Until the ICE is phased completely out of existence and EVs take over altogether, we will see a lot of i-models that are based long-running models in the lineup. It shows how a standard model can evolve into an EV without shedding the traditional BMW design cues and still managing to stand out in its own right. It will be interesting to see what BMW comes up with next. We know the iNext will be coming and if It’s as down to earth as the iX3, it’ll probably be a big hit. The question right now, however, is whether or not the production version of the iX3 will be able to stand on its own four wheels with 249 miles of range – is it enough or does the market require more? Only time will tell.

References

2018 BMW X3 High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 BMW X3.

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Read more BMW news.

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Read more 2018 Beijing Auto Show news.

Press release

Electric mobility arrives at the core of BMW.

Munich. The BMW Group is pushing ahead with its electrification strategy by extending the reach of its all-electric mobility offering to the company’s core brands. The BMW Concept iX3 – presented for the first time at the Auto China 2018 show in Beijing – offers a look ahead to the expansion of the model line-up in this area. The first model from the BMW brand to be driven purely by electric power will be a fully-fledged Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) – and without compromises when it comes to functionality and comfort.

The BMW Concept iX3 underscores the BMW Group’s resolve to further strengthen its leading position in the field of electric mobility. The expansion of the company’s range of vehicles offering locally emission-free mobility is one of the central spheres of activity defined by the Automated, Connected, Electrified and Services (ACES) technological fields, on which the company is driving forward the transformation of the mobility sector as part of its NUMBER ONE > NEXT strategy.

The expansion of locally emission-free mobility vehicles is one of the key areas of centralized action, alongside with automated driving, high-end connectivity and new digital services, which are driving the company’s transformation of the mobility industry as part of the NUMBER ONE> NEXT strategy. Under the generic term "iNext", and as an enabler for the entire BMW Group, the future-model-kit is now being developed, in which the BMW Concept iX3 is playing a key role.


Among the innovations showcased in the BMW Concept iX3 is the fifth generation of BMW eDrive technology. A key benefit of this electric drive technology of the future is the grouping together of the electric motor, transmission and power electronics within a new, separate electric drive component. Plus, the fifth-generation electric drive system also includes new and more powerful batteries. This fresh package of technology brings considerable advances in terms of performance characteristics, operating range, weight, packaging space and flexibility – and will be making its debut in the purely electrically-driven SAV.

The unparalleled technological expertise of BMW i has also played a prominent role in the development of the fifth-generation electric drive system, providing further evidence of BMW i as a nerve centre for sustainable mobility. The transfer of the drive system technology originally developed for BMW i cars into vehicles from the BMW Group’s core brands is entering a new dimension here.

Fully electrified vehicles of the core brand will in future bear a BMW i brand logo. This is visible in the concept vehicle both in the side and in the rear. BMW eDrive technology today already is part of the plug-in hybrid drive system employed by the BMW iPerformance models and MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4. In the BMW Concept iX3, the next, highly integrated development stage of this technology delivers all-electric mobility. The future series-production version of the electrically powered SAV will therefore also benefit from the technological basis underpinning the powertrain of the BMW iNext, due to be presented in 2021.

Flexible architecture enables sustainable mobility.
With the world premiere of the BMW Concept iX3, the BMW Group is opening a new chapter in its electrification strategy. The future will see the company’s flexible, further developed vehicle architectures accommodating all types of front-wheel, rear-wheel and all-wheel drive. This will pave the way for models from all the company’s brands to be equipped with different drive system variants. And that means a pure combustion engine, plug-in hybrid drive system or battery-electric solution can be integrated into any model, as desired.

The launch of the fifth-generation electric drive system technology once again makes integration into different vehicle architectures significantly easier. The individual components of this new BMW eDrive technology stand out with their lower weight, scalability and extremely compact construction. Added to which, they fit into a flexible modular design structure and can therefore be utilised in a variety of different ways. BMW’s approach to highly integrated electric drive system technology can in future be applied to a large number of different models.

In order to exploit this potential, the vehicle architectures of current and future models from all the company’s brands will allow for the integration of different drive system variants. In this way, the BMW Group will be able to meet the ever increasing need for electrified vehicles with a wealth of different variants tailored to meet specific demand. The BMW X3, on which the concept vehicle is based, is one of the first models whose architecture demonstrates this flexibility. In addition, the BMW Concept iX3 features a specially developed rear axle subframe and specific chassis integration.

Scalable components, flexible production.
The fifth-generation BMW eDrive technology is distinguished by its extremely compact design. The electric motor, transmission and power electronics are now grouped into a single component, making it much easier to integrate them into different vehicle architectures. Plus, their modular construction enables them to be adapted to the performance levels required and the available space. Another notable element is that the electric motor does not need any rare earths, which means the BMW Group is not dependent on their availability.

The modular design approach has also been further optimised in the development of the next-generation high-voltage battery. The experience amassed by BMW i and the company’s established expertise in the areas of cell technology and cell design have been rigorously applied to further enhance the performance, energy content, charging capability and durability of the battery. Moreover, production of battery cell prototypes enables full analysis and understanding of the value creation processes for the cells and prepares potential suppliers for cell production according to specific requirements.

Like the vehicle architectures and eDrive technology of the future, the BMW Group’s international production network is also set up to provide a high level of flexibility – in this case for the production of models with electric drive systems. Indeed, electrified vehicles are already rolling off assembly lines at ten BMW Group locations around the world. The eDrive components for these vehicles are supplied by production facilities in Dingolfing (Germany), Shenyang (China) and Spartanburg in the US. BMW Group Plant Dingolfing plays a leading role here as the network’s centre of expertise for electric drive systems.

The BMW Brilliance Automotive joint venture will produce the future series-production version of the BMW Concept iX3 in Shenyang, China.

BMW Concept iX3 with more than 200 kW/270 hp electric motor and a WLTP range of more than 400 kilometres (249 miles).
The BMW Concept iX3 represents another milestone on the road to locally emission-free driving under the BMW Group’s electrification strategy. And so a Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) once again blazes a trail for a new and groudbreaking form of BMW’s fabled driving pleasure. The current BMW X5 xDrive40e iPerformance (petrol consumption combined: 3.4 – 3.3 l/100 km [83.1 – 85.6 mpg imp]; electric power consumption combined: 15.4 – 15.3 kWh/100 km; CO2 emissions combined: 78 – 77 g/km) made its debut in 2015 as the BMW core brand’s first plug-in hybrid model. And the BMW ActiveHybrid X6 presented in 2009 was the world’s first Sports Activity Coupe with a full-hybrid drive system.

The BMW Concept iX3 previews the fusion of the multi-faceted driving pleasure for which BMW X models are renowned and a locally emission-free drive system. The version of the fifth-generation electric motor developed for the SAV generates maximum output of over 200 kW/270 hp. The likewise model-specific high-voltage battery has a net capacity of over 70 kWh, which is enough to give the electric SAV a range of more than 400 kilometres (249 miles) in the WLTP cycle.

Another feature of the high-voltage battery developed for the fifth generation of eDrive technology is its optimised charging capability. The energy storage system has a newly developed Charging Control Unit and is designed to be hooked up to fast-charging stations generating up to 150 kW. The high-voltage battery can be charged in just 30 minutes from one of these stations.

Electric mobility also means a differentiation in design.
In the front, the kidney and the brand emblem show the affiliation with the BMW i brand. The closed double kidney with the blue accentuation continues the BMW i Vision Dynamics brand already featured in the BMW i Vision Dynamics. The closed area within the kidney reduces air resistance, providing aerodynamic benefits.

Identifying features of the BMW Concept iX3 include a closed-off BMW kidney grille with familiar BMW i car graphic, BMW i Blue accents around the kidney, around the brand logo at the front and along the side skirts, and a diffuser element in the same colour integrated in the rear apron. These styling cues provide a striking contrast against the Moonstone Silver matt exterior paint finish. The concept study is also fitted with light-alloy wheels in an aerodynamically optimised design.

Alongside the world premiere of the BMW Concept iX3 and the BMW i Vision Dynamics study also on display in Beijing, the BMW Group is also highlighting the spectrum of design differentiation between the BMW and BMW i brands. The styling of the BMW i Vision Dynamics is characterised by the pioneering design language developed exclusively for BMW i models. The signature looks of BMW i cars will also mark out future models from the brand. This study of a first all-electric model from BMW is clearly defined by the robust and sophisticated all-round character of an SAV, which remains unaffected by the presence of a locally emission-free drive system under the skin.

The electric drive will be visible through the design elements from the BMW i design language in the exterior design mentioned above.

About BMW i.
BMW i is a BMW Group brand focusing on connected mobility services, visionary vehicle concepts and a new understanding of premium strongly defined by sustainability. BMW i is represented in 54 countries with the BMW i3 electric car for urban areas, BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports car and plug-in hybrid BMW iPerformance Automobiles.

BMW i opens up new target groups for the company and serves as an incubator for innovations. Technologies which have debuted successfully in BMW i cars are carried over to parent brand BMW’s other models.

BMW i is also associated with enterprises including DriveNow (car sharing), ReachNow (car sharing 2.0), ChargeNow (easy access to the world’s largest network of charging points), ParkNow (straightforward location, reservation and payment of parking spaces), venture capital company BMW i Ventures (investment in start-up companies with a focus on urban mobility), BMW Energy (energy optimisation services) and the Centre of Competence for Urban Mobility (consultancy for cities).

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