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BMW Unveils the Electric iX SUV - New Competition For Tesla

BMW Unveils the Electric iX SUV - New Competition For Tesla

Author: FutureCar Staff    

As electric automaker Tesla has taken the crown as the world's most valuable automaker, the rest of the auto industry is playing catchup, and global automakers are rushing to develop new electric models to compete. 

German automaker BMW also has big plans to build electric vehicles, which is no secret. But on Wednesday the automaker revealed its new fully-electric iX SUV aimed at luring buyers away from Tesla. The electric iX will enter a fast-growing field of new battery-powered SUVs from Audi, Ford and Cadillac.

The BMW iX will go on sale in the U.S. in early 2022.

BMW says its iX is the most advanced and intelligent vehicle it has ever built. It will go into production at BMW Plant Dingolfing in the second half of 2021. 

"The BMW Group is constantly striving to reinvent itself. That is a central element of our corporate strategy," says Oliver Zipse, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG. "The BMW iX expresses this approach in an extremely concentrated form."

BMW said the electric iX should have a driving range of 300 miles (480 km) and will produce around 500 horsepower. The electric powertrain will propel the BMW iX from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in under 5.0 seconds, the automaker claims. 

Like many other EVs hitting the market, the iX will also support fast-charging, with new charging technology that enables DC fast charging at up to 200 kW. Drivers would be able to add roughly 75 miles of range in just ten minutes at a fast-charging station.

To help meet BMW's sustainability goals, the batteries in the BMW iX are designed to allow for a very high recycling rate. The power used to manufacture the battery cells and high-voltage battery pack comes exclusively from renewable sources, BMW said.

"Technology is driving the advances we need to tackle even the greatest challenges. This applies in particular to climate protection," says Oliver Zipse. "We are in no doubt: mobility has to be sustainable if it is to represent a truly outstanding solution. For the BMW Group, premium mobility is not possible without responsibility."

Without mechanical powertrain components intruding on the iX's interior space, BMW said that the interior space is comparable in size to BMW's larger X5 SUV.

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Like Tesla's Model X, BMW will offer a panoramic glass roof in the iX, which features a large single-piece transparent surface that spans the entire interior. BMW says its the largest glass roof ever fitted in a BMW model. 

The panoramic roof is composed of a steel frame, two laminated glass panels and three layers of film sandwiched in between. This construction offers both optimum protection against ultraviolet rays and reduces noise, according to BMW.

The glass roof enhances the sense of spaciousness inside the  iX and maximizes headroom for the occupants by removing the need for an interior roof liner. The new glass roof features electrochromic shading that can be activated at the press of a button to shield the interior from direct sunlight, eliminating the need for a physical shade. 

The roof is the only one of its kind in the automotive industry to employ PDLC (Polymer Dispersed Liquid Crystal) technology for shading the interior, BMW says.

The electromechanical glass roof is darkened by applying a voltage to the middle layer of film. Once voltage is applied, the liquid crystals in the film are dispersed as droplets and align using electrical energy allowing rays of light to pass through uninterrupted. When de-energized, the glass turns dark in less than a second as the liquid crystals redistribute themselves in a disorderly pattern that creates the effect of shade. 

Another feature is that the electromechanical shade mode is activated automatically once the vehicle has been parked to keep the interior cooler in direct sunlight.

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The iX Dashboard Features a Bold Widescreen Display

Inside the electric iX appears another new trend in the auto industry, a large, curved widescreen touch display in front of the driver that extends to the middle of the dashboard. The curved, one-piece display replaces the traditional instrument cluster for the driver. It's wide enough to still clearly be seen and easily operated by the front passenger as well.

"The BMW iX is the first model from the BMW Group to feature the impressive high-resolution Curved Display, which is far larger and sharper than the displays in our current models," said Frank Weber, Frank Weber, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Development. 

"As a result, the BMW iX interior points the way ahead for cockpit design in future BMW models."

The Curved Display in the iX runs the next-generation BMW Operating System which offers a totally new graphical interface that's customizable. BMW's OS supports voice or touch control enable the driver to interact with the additional intelligent functions aboard the BMW iX more safely while driving.

"There is no user interface anywhere in the automotive industry that can be operated as simply and as safely as ours," said Weber. "In the BMW iX we have taken this to new heights with a new digital platform and the next-generation BMW Operating System."

The iX will also offer a Head-Up Display (HUD) that shows speed, speed limits, control messages, status indicators and warnings from the driver assistance systems, along with detailed route guidance and turn-by-turn directions. The HUD also shows infotainment options as well as telephone information. The display's angle, height and brightness can all be adjusted individually and help drivers keep their eyes on the road. 

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The BMW iX is New Competition for Segment Leader Tesla

For Tesla, the iX represents some of the looming competition that's ahead from the world's legacy automakers. California-based Tesla was virtually unchallenged in the premium/luxury electric vehicle space for nearly a decade. 

Now Tesla is facing new competition on the other side of the world in China from startups Nio Inc. and Xpeng Motors, which is the world's biggest auto market. 

In the U.S., Tesla is facing competition from Ford Motor Co. with its Mustang inspired Mach-E SUV launching in 2021 and the Cadillac Lyriq SUV from General Motors scheduled to be released in 2022. Ford said on Monday it plans to add a second electric model built on the same platform as the Mach-E.

BMW's iX will also compete with its fellow German rivals Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen, both of which have electric premium models in the works that will eventually go on sale in the U.S.

For charging the iX, BMW is partnering with EVgo, the largest public fast charging network in the U.S. and the first to be powered by 100% renewable energy. 

The BMW Charging service will provide drivers with access to EVgo and partner charging network stations via a mobile app. Using the app, BMW drivers can see the real-time status of chargers and initiate a charging session. EVgo's public fast charging network offers the convenience of charging at more than 800 fast charging locations.

Interested U.S. customers can sign up for BMW iX updates at  www.bmwusa.com/future-vehicles/ix.html.

FutureCar Staff
FutureCar Staff
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