Say hello to the iX3, BMW’s ‘first’ electric car

SUV with likely 400km one-charge range to make its global debut at Beijing motor show

BMW iX3: stylistically, it’s much quieter looking than i-branded models, and is basically an X3 with a slightly tweaked bodykit and a blanked-off “kidney” grille at the front

BMW iX3: stylistically, it’s much quieter looking than i-branded models, and is basically an X3 with a slightly tweaked bodykit and a blanked-off “kidney” grille at the front

 

This, the iX3 all-electric version of the X3 SUV, is BMW’s first electric car. Hang on, you might say, isn’t there are little thing called the i3 electric car running around? Been on sale for a few years now? Well, yes it has but BMW makes the point that the i3 is specifically an i-badged model, so part of the quasi-experimental i-range, whereas the iX3, in spite of having i in its name, is part of the “core” BMW brand line-up, so is kinda technically BMW’s first electric car.

Confused? Well, forget all the nomenclature, it’s an electric version of BMW’s big-selling and critically-lauded X3 and that should be good enough for now.

The iX3 will make its global public debut this week at the all-important Beijing motor show, and will sit alongside the i Vision Dynamics concept car shown off previously, which is a big hint at what BMW has planned in the line of an i-badged electric saloon.

Tweaked bodykit

Stylistically, it’s much quieter looking than i-branded models, and is basically an X3 with a slightly tweaked bodykit and a blanked-off “kidney” grille at the front. That grille is subtly reshaped to give it a bit more of a distinctive flavour, with a strong touch of the styling of that i Vision Dynamics concept. There’s also lots of blue highlighting to reinforce the car’s electric credentials, while it also gets “aerodynamically optimised” alloy wheels.

BMW says that the iX3’s electric drive system is the fifth iteration of its battery technology, and it combines new batteries with an electric motor, transmission, and all the necessary control electronics bundled into one section of the car. Apparently, the new layout “brings considerable advances in terms of performance characteristics, operating range, weight, packaging space and flexibility”.

This modular, “plug-and-play” electric drive setup theoretically makes it easier to expand the electric offering to other BMW models, and BMW says that the iX3’s electric motor doesn’t need any “rare Earth” metals, which makes its construction a little more eco-friendly, not to mention ethics-friendly.

High-speed chargers

That motor deploys 270hp, and is fed by a lithium-ion battery stack with a capacity of 70kWh, which is claimed to be enough for a 400km one-charge range, based on the new, tougher, WLTP fuel economy and emissions test.

The iX3 has been specifically designed around 150kW fast-charging, and can theoretically be charged to 80 per cent battery capacity in just 30 minutes from a 150kW charger. We say theoretically because 150kW chargers are rarer than hen’s lips right now, although BMW is part of the IONITY group, in which car-makers are collaborating and investing to roll out more high-speed chargers across Europe.

Prices and specs for the iX3 will be decided closer to its on-sale date.