Presented at the BMW AG Annual General Meeting, the new BMW Vision iNEXT project (now officially going into production as the new iX range) is set to take the company’s early moves in all-electric mobility – which began with BMW i3 in 2013 and define how we will move around in the future. The mass customization of parts made possible by 3D printing – something that BMW is intensively experimenting with and investing on for its “i” fleet – will play a central role. In particular, in the first BMW Vision iNEXT concept, it will be shaping custom smart controls through it kidney grille and “four-eyed” front end.
The large, upright kidney grille present in the front end of the iNEXT is blanked off as with all electrically powered vehicles. With no combustion engine to require cooling, the kidney element now serves as an “intelligence panel” housing various sensors. A 3D printed pattern points to the technology below the surface. Super-slim headlights are part of a modern interpretation of BMW’s signature four-eyed front end. The windscreen extends smoothly into a large panoramic roof, lending the rump of the car a visual lightness and ensuring the innovative interior is clearly visible from the outside.
The BMW Group has already achieved a great deal on the front of smart, increasingly customized electric vehicles: it now has over ten years of experience with electric mobility under its belt in both small-scale and large-scale production, the BMW “i” models are being improved all the time, and their technology is being employed to gradually electrify models from the BMW and MINI ranges. The next step now is the complete in-car integration of the strategic innovation fields Autonomy + Connectivity + Electric + Services.
The Design, meanwhile, is a visual expression of the innovation fields and answers the question about what the driving pleasure experience is going to look like in future. The BMW Vision iNEXT will come onto the market in 2021, but new MINI and i3’s will arrive before then.
“The BMW Vision iNEXT represents a new era of sheer driving pleasure. It underlines the leading role Germany plays in the future of mobility.”Harald Krüger, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG.
The BMW Vision iNEXT
Highly automated, emission-free and fully connected, it brings together the BMW Group’s strategic innovation fields into a Vision Vehicle for the first time and provides revealing answers to the question: “What does a vehicle look like which no longer needs to be driven by a person but can be if desired?” At the heart of such deliberations are, more than ever, people – with all their emotions and desires.
The series-produced version of the BMW iNEXT will assume the role of a new technology flagship; production at Plant Dingolfing is slated to begin in 2021. It will take the BMW Group’s strategic innovation fields (“D+ACES”) onto the road for the first time as a single package.
A future-focused Vision Vehicle – the BMW Vision iNEXT – is meant to provide a tangible preview of how the BMW iNEXT might look. “Personal mobility is set to experience significant change,” explained Klaus Fröhlich, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, responsible for Development. “The possibilities opened up by autonomous driving and ever-expanding connectivity enable a whole new range of experiences and ways of shaping a journey. With this in mind, we have designed the all-electric BMW Vision iNEXT as a mobile environment that enhances the quality of life, a new “Favourite Space” in which we can be ourselves and relax. Indeed, all of BMW’s endeavors will continue to revolve around people – and their needs and desires when it comes to mobility – in the future,” added Fröhlich.
Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design summed up the creative approach: “BMW i exists to generate creative, pioneering ideas which transform the way we think about mobility. The BMW Vision iNEXT marks another next big step on that journey of transformation, showing how more intelligent vehicles can make our lives easier and more beautiful.”
“The iNEXT project will provide our building blocks for the future, from which the entire company and all of its brands are set to benefit.”Harald Krüger
The iNEXT milestones
Flexibility – the key to success. Ten years ago, the BMW Group launched “project i” as part of its NUMBER ONE strategy and became a pioneer in electric mobility. Today, vehicles with combustion engines and plug-in drive systems are built on the same architecture. In one of the successful developments to come out of 2009’s project i, this ensures production is flexible and can be adapted to demand.
The BMW iNEXT vehicle project has assumed a comparable central role in the development of the tool kits and components required in the future. Looking ahead, the new vehicle architectures for all front-, rear- and all-wheel-drive configurations, plus state-of-the-art factories, will allow the BMW Group to make quick decisions on which and how many models should be fully electric, equipped with a plug-in hybrid drive system or powered by a highly efficient combustion engine. By 2025 the BMW Group will be offering 25 models with electrified drive systems, 12 of which will be pure-electric.
In July 2017 the BMW Group announced that the new, fully-electric MINI would be launched as a variant of the MINI 3 door. Production of the all-electric MINI will begin in 2019. In the future, MINI customers will be able to choose from three different drive types: combustion engine, plug-in hybrid or pure-electric motor. The drivetrain of the fully-electric MINI will be produced at BMW Group Plants Dingolfing and Landshut – the competence centers for electric mobility within the company’s production network. The drivetrain will then be integrated into the car at BMW Group Plant Oxford. The decision in favor of Oxford was made in the knowledge that the plant already produces the majority of MINI 3 door models.
The BMW Concept iX3 presented for the first time at the Auto China 2018 is BMW’s first fully-fledged Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) to be driven purely by electric power. 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.
In addition, the modular construction of the technology enables it 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 (and on their highly pulliting extraction process). As for the performance figures of the BMW Concept iX3: its electric motor develops over 200 kW/270 hp and gives a range in the WLTP cycle of more than 400 kilometers (249 miles).