When it arrives on June 1st, the BMW iX electric crossover will sit at the top of the BMW model range when it comes to technology. The new iX has been often touted by BMW as their car of the future and that’s reflected in its platform as well. While most, if not all, of the upcoming BMW electric vehicles are built on the premises of “Power Of Choice”, simply a slogan for flexible architecture, the iX is its own league.
According to a Frank Weber, BMW Board Member responsible for Development, the BMW iX uses a bespoke platform which won’t be seen across the electric range. And since that seems counterproductive to the flexible architecture strategy, we asked Mr. Weber the following question: Why is the iX a bespoke product?
“The iX was always started as the futuristic project in our organization,” Weber said. “It was a moment in time when we wanted to put all the latest technology – that is available – in the iX. This was a clear BMW i product, just like the i3 and i8. Very specific and unique products. The iX is probably the last BMW i product.”
Next, Mr. Weber went to clarify the new electric strategy which will rely on the “Neue Klasse” dedicated platform for electric vehicles. “When we move to the New Class, we talk about BMW core products. This is no longer about the BMW i versus core BMW models,” said Weber. “BMW is moving with its entire portfolio to entirely electric-centric vehicles.”
Mr. Weber says that the BMW iX has a very unique interior and still plenty of carbon fiber elements – similar to current BMW i products. “This is a lead product that enables us on the electric architecture side, digital side and on the autonomous driving side,” R&D chief added.
Certainly, this is an interesting approach in times when most automakers have gone with a dedicated EV platform, but considering the lead time to an actual production vehicle, likely the decision behind the iX was made at least 6-7 years ago. In a separate topic, Mr. Weber also acknowledged how quickly the automotive market is moving these days. So it seems that BMW is now taking a more agile approach to vehicle production and planning which allows them to stay competitive in the automotive landscape.
Of course, the investment in a bespoke platform is significant. We know from that beginnings of the BMW i sub-division that the initial investment was somewhere in the 2 to 3 billion euros range. Yet, only two products emerged from the i division: the i3 and i8. Granted, lots of the knowledge and tech was transferred to plug-in hybrid vehicles which have become some of the fastest selling BMW models today.
The follow up question we had was whether an iX successor will have the same faith as the i3 hatchback which is rumored to go out of production within the next two years without having a 1:1 successor. So whether the iX will get a second generation, it’s still a question for the end of this decade, but nonetheless, this is one interesting topic to follow.
For now, BMW believes that the iX will be an extremely successful product and that its tech will overshadow any subjective design opinions. And based on our own recent interaction with the iX, the electric crossover will most likely live up to its expectations. Stay tuned next Tuesday – June 1 – for a detailed review of the BMW iX!