The new BMW iX is a hugely important car for BMW a couple of reasons. For one thing, it’s BMW’s latest and greatest EV tech, so it’s going to be the car that BMW uses to compete with Tesla. For another, it’s the first EV BMW built on a bespoke EV architecture since the i3 and that’s a very important part of the iX’s nature. When BMW debuted cars like the iX3 and even the new i4, one of my main criticisms of both cars was that neither were built on a bespoke EV architecture and they both suffer because of that.
The new BMW iX is built on its own, all-electric architecture and the benefits of that are easy to see in these new photos. Seen here is the BMW iX with cutaways in its body, chassis, and battery pack, to show just how helpful its bespoke architecture is.
Having a dedicated EV platform means a few things. For one thing, it’s lighter than converting a traditional architecture over for an electric vehicle. The structural points and package requirements are designed specifically for a battery pack in the floor, electric motors at each axle, and the lack of traditional powertrain equipment. So there’s no waste in the chassis. For another, it allows for better packaging, which in turn allows for better interior space, a larger battery pack, and more cargo space. Lastly, it gives BMW designers more freedom to design the car as they want, as there are fewer powertrain packaging constraints to worry about.
For instance, the completely flat rear trunk floor in the iX is only possible because it doesn’t have a traditional transmission tunnel to work around. The battery can be stored completely flat underneath the floor with no obstructions. Therefore, the battery is packaged better and rear passengers have far more foot room. Also, because the rear subframes and suspension were designed for an electric motor, the entire eDrive unit can be stored under the rear trunk floor with no intrusion into cargo space.
In terms of design, just look at how different and unique the BMW iX is, while the i4 looks like a 4 Series Gran Coupe with some blue lipstick. Sure, that was supposedly BMW’s plan but think of how much cooler the i4 could look if it was given a clean sheet, pure EV chassis design. Just look at the Audi A6 e-tron Concept, for example. That car is built on a pure EV architecture and it looks fabulous because of it. Designers have far more freedom with pure EVs, which always leads to more interesting, unique designs.
The BMW iX also makes clever use of materials in its chassis. As you can see in some of these photos, some of the chassis’ lower half is made from CFRP (carbon fiber reinforced plastic), which helps reduce weight and add stiffness.
Sadly, the BMW iX’s chassis won’t last, as it will be a one-off electric architecture, just like the i3’s. Instead, BMW is going to go in a different direction for future EVs. BMW is going to be using the “Neue Klasse” architecture, which will be a mostly EV platform in the near future. I say “mostly EV” because all of the Neue Klasse vehicles will be electrified and even start out as electric vehicles first. However, if gas engines are needed, there will be hybrid versions as well.
Time will tell if that sort of fence-sitting will be wise or not but the benefits of a purely electric architecture are clear. A platform like the iX’s, for example, allows both the engineers and designers more freedom to make something truly special.