The Bavarian wants to make sure its first all-electric crossover is a 100-percent fool-proof before it is launched

Do you remember the BMW iNext? Yes, the one with that Bane face from Batman? Well, it has been spotted testing in some extreme conditions. The iNext was seen going through vigorous testing in the cold weather in Swedish Lapland. It looks like BMW has a lot of expectations from the electric crossover. A little off-topic, but didn’t you notice that even the camouflage is not able to cover the huge kidney grille?

Meet BMW’s Flagship Electric Model

BMW iNext tested at the polar circle
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The crossover was unveiled in concept form at the Los Angeles Motor Show last year, and the design philosophy took everyone by surprise. But that big mouth eclipsed all the other good things about the iNext.

The crossover with Bavarian DNA has been designed to combine advanced autonomous system, connectivity, and electrification into one product that is touted as the company's flagship electric product.

The model sits on a radical new platform and will provide the building blocks for the automaker moving forward.

A Trip To The Snowy Land

BMW iNext tested at the polar circle
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The iNext was spotted testing at BMW’s winter testing facility in Arjeplog in Sweden.

The main reason for BMW to do this testing is to determine whether and how the frosty temperature affects the vehicle's electric motor and battery, along with its heating and cooling systems.

BMW engineers will also observe how the temperatures impact the steering and braking systems, the way the energy system is recharged and how it transfers electricity to the motor, along with the performance of an all-wheel drive system built specifically for the electric drive.

This Is Not The Same Prototype We Saw At The 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show

The BMW iNext Points To the Future Of The Automaker's Electric SUVs Exterior
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What caught our attention was the fact that it looks quite different from the concept that was unveiled. The backwards-opening rear doors have been replaced with a more conventional set and larger B-pillars have been added. The iNext, as BMW describes it - boutique ambience on wheels - will boast technologies like adaptive infotainment displays and intelligent assistants.

The grille looks a little different as well; a little more mainstream, to be precise.

In an email about the tests, BMW describes the iNEXT as “a modern Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV)”, which the automaker thinks “embodies the pioneering interpretation of brand typical driving pleasure – with purely electric drive, intelligent all-wheel-drive system and model-specific suspension technology.”

Those Are Two Really Versatile Platforms

BMW iNext tested at the polar circle
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Going forward, BMW wants to build all its next generation of cars on just two architectures. One will be for the front-wheel drive, while the other will be for the real-wheel drive and all-wheel-drive systems. Both platforms will be designed for use in conventional internal combustion engines, plug-in hybrids, as well as full-electric vehicles. This will certainly make things a lot more simpler for the German as it will be able to build cars with different propulsion systems on the same production line.

The iNext will be built on the second platform, and it will also underpin all the future vehicles from the BMW stable from the 3 Series upwards.

With this platform, BMW will also be eligible to build cars with a rear-engine configuration, too.

Talking about the iNext, it will come with a rear-mounted electric powertrain as standard. For the plug-in hybrid models, BMW will plonk the electric motor at the rear and the transversely mounted internal combustion engine at the front. Traditional gas-powered models will come with the conventional rear-wheel drive, front-engine layout. Other permutations will include twin-motored, four-wheel-drive electric cars and conventional mechanical four-wheel-drive internal combustion engine models.

Planning For An Autonomous Future

The BMW iNext Points To the Future Of The Automaker's Electric SUVs Exterior
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The new architecture will also incorporate a new autonomous technology platform that will support Level 5 autonomy when launched. Level 5 autonomy is the stage wherein the car does not require a driver.

The iNext will offer Level 3 autonomy when launched an you will be able to cruise the highways at speeds of up to at up to 80 miles per hour on highways with your hands and eyes-off.

The Level 4 and Level 5 autonomous systems will be tested on a fleet of pilot cars in 2021 before being introduced on passenger cars. Level 4 aims for ‘hands-off and mind-off’ autonomy in urban situations, while Level 5 will offer driverless urban travel at up to 43 miles per hour.

Battery Woes?

The BMW iNext Points To the Future Of The Automaker's Electric SUVs Exterior
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At the Los Angeles Auto Show, the Bavarian claimed the iNext to have a range of 370 miles, which may sound impressive now, but given that the crossover will be launched in 2021, the 370-mile range will be probably just be an average figure in the market then. The battery range has been BMW’s Achilles’ heel since the i3 days. Hopefully, BMW works on it and pumps up the figure. Sources at BMW say that the maximum range of the electric models could be up to 450 miles in future X-series models.

Final Thoughts

BMW iNext tested at the polar circle
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Just like its combustion vehicles, BMW is testing the components of the electric crossover as well under real-world conditions at the polar circle for the first time. The iNext will be built at BMW’s Dingolfing plant in Germany and will not be arriving anytime before 2021. But before that, the German automaker plans to produce an all-electric Mini in 2019 and an iX3 in 2020. By 2025, BMW aims to have 12 all-electric vehicles on the road. What are your thoughts on this? Share them with us in the comments section below.

Further reading

The BMW iNext Points To the Future Of The Automaker's Electric SUVs Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 BMW iNext Concept.

2020 BMW iX3
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Read our full review on the 2020 BMW iX3.

The future of driving pleasure is approaching fast and the BMW iNEXT takes the next hurdle of its path to serial production maturity. The winter test centre of the BMW Group in Arjeplog, Sweden is the setting for the current complete vehicle tests, which serve to optimise, examine and harmonise all drive, chassis and suspension components under extreme climate and road conditions. With its purely electric drive, the BMW iNEXT meets individual mobility needs in an especially sustainable manner. It also combines the latest developments from the areas of automated driving and intelligent connectivity offering passengers completely new ways of enjoying their ride.

The series production version of the BMW iNEXT will be manufactured in the BMW Plant in Dingolfing from 2021. The new technology flagship of the BMW Group integrates the key future topics of automated driving, connectivity, electrification and services (ACES) in the automobile as defined in the NUMBER ONE > NEXT company strategy. Its innovative technology focusses on people’s needs and requirements. The BMW iNEXT, in the shape of a modern Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) embodies the pioneering interpretation of brand typical driving pleasure – with purely electric drive, intelligent all-wheel-drive system and model-specific suspension technology. These components are currently being winter-tested together under real-world conditions at the polar circle for the first time. This intensive series of tests, which is equivalent to those used for conventionally powered models, illustrates the high degree of maturity of the purely electric drive technology developed by the BMW Group, which makes the BMW iNEXT the symbol for the move into a new era of driving pleasure.

The test drives with the camouflaged BMW iNEXT are being conducted on snow-covered roads and ice-covered lakes, where low temperatures and minimal road friction dominate everyday testing. The cold poses a challenge, above all, for the electric motor, the high-voltage battery and the cooling system of the BMW iNEXT. The testing engineers also attach particular importance to the eDrive energy management system. They analyse the way in which the extreme sub-zero temperatures affect how the energy storage system recharges, how electricity is transferred to the electric motor, how the electrical system is supplied with energy and how the heating and air condition systems respond. The power transmission and suspension regulation systems are also tested far beyond what is standard in day-to-day traffic conditions. On closed-off, ice-covered surfaces electronic regulation can already be provoked at low driving speeds. For the engineers this means that they can, for example, analyse the interaction of the all-wheel-drive system, which was especially developed for the electric drive, and DSC (Dynamic Stability Control). They can then continuously optimise the processes under exactly reproducible conditions.

The steering and braking system are also fine-tuned under these conditions. Just like the deceleration performance of the brakes, the energy recuperation when coasting must be precisely adapted to each driving situation. The tracks around Arjeplog also provide the ideal testing ground for these trials. The BMW iNEXT is confronted with the entire range of dynamic driving challenges when winter-testing on gravel tracks, dry asphalt and extremely slippery polished ice surfaces.

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