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BMW offers iNext taster

Next level: Though little is known about the iNext, save for the single teaser image, BMW is promising up to 700km of all-electric driving range thanks to new battery technologies.

New iNext electric SUV due in 2021 could become BMW ‘i’ flagship model

18 May 2018

BMW has given the first taste of its upcoming all-electric, self-driving iNext that is expected to become the new flagship of its ‘i’ division it is launched in international markets in 2021.
Revealed at the Bavarian automotive giant’s annual general meeting, only a single teaser sketch was shown during BMW chairman of the board of management Harald Krueger’s speech.
The image of the mooted model shows a slender glasshouse in profile view, as well as what appears to be wheelarch cladding, indicating that the iNext could take the shape of a high-riding SUV.
Developed alongside the i4 all-electric liftback shown in concept form as the i Vision Dynamics at last year’s Frankfurt motor show, Mr Krueger is promising “fifth-generation battery technology” in both models that will enable “an increased range of about 700 kilometres”.
The iNext platform is also set to be built on a modular platform described as “a bit like Lego” by Mr Krueger.
“The iNext project is our building kit for the future,” he said. “It will benefit the entire company and all our brands. 
“For the first time, we are combining all key technologies for future mobility in one vehicle. The iNext is fully electric, fully connected and also offers highly automated driving.”
As such, the iNext is expected to become the i division’s new hero model as it shifts focus away from electrification and towards autonomy.
Already revealed to feature Level 3 self-driving technologies, the production iNext will be capable of autonomously navigating itself in highway conditions, with systems refined and developed in-house at BMW’s driverless research centre near Munich.
To be built in Dingolfing, Germany at the brand’s largest vehicle production facility from 2021, the iNext will share its factory with the hard-charging M5, 5 Series sedan and Touring, 4 and 6 Series Gran Coupes,  and the plug-in 5 and 7 Series variants.
Mr Krueger confirmed that the iNext concept will be revealed “as a Vision vehicle” later this year, and rumours suggest it will surface at the Paris show in October.
Meanwhile the i4 will be built in Munich, sharing its production facility with the 4 Series coupes including the M4, as well as the 3 Series sedan, Touring and plug-in hybrid.
Speaking to GoAuto in Spain at the launch of the i8 Roadster earlier this year, BMW i media relations manager Paloma Brunckhorst said: “The iNext is the first autonomous car, so it’s holding the banner, and then we’ll see what happens with the i3 and i8.”
The homogeny of BMW’s platforms and engines will also be complete around the turn of the decade, according to Mr Krueger, which will allow the brand to offer electrified powertrains across its entire model line-up.
“We are enabling our plants for a wide range of drivetrains, using flexible architectures. From 2020, we will be able to fit all model series with any type of drivetrain,” he said.
“Today, we are already producing electrified models at ten locations worldwide.”
As previously reported, the first all-electric Mini will go into production in Oxford, England next year, while BMW also signed a letter of intent earlier this year with car-making giant Great Wall Motors (GMW) Group to produce emissions-free Mini vehicles in the world’s biggest market, China.
In addition, BMW will strengthen its existing Chinese joint venture with Brilliance Auto to produce the X3 medium SUV for the Asian country, while also building the all-electric version – previewed with the iX3 Concept at last month’s Beijing motor show – in China for sale in global markets from 2020.
Next year will see BMW opening a new production facility in Mexico that will produce vehicles from San Luis Potosi for global consumption.
Mr Krueger also confirmed the much-anticipated, new-generation BMW X5 will be shown before year’s end, which is expected to be offered in plug-in form like its predecessor.
Promising a delivery of 140,000 electrified vehicles by year’s end, Mr Krueger said by the end of 2019, “we will have a total half a million electric models and plug-in hybrids on the roads” – double the 250,000 electrified BMW vehicles currently in the wild.
By 2025, it is expected that BMW will offer 25 electrified models in its line-up, 12 of which will be pure-electric vehicles. 
“Our premium aspiration is to be at the forefront,” Mr Krueger said. “With the biggest model offensive in our history we are issuing a challenge to our competitors.
“We are the number one in electrified vehicles in Europe and Germany. All our brands and model series are going electric. That shows our consistency. That’s the future.”
Audi will launch its bid for electric vehicle dominance with the e-tron quattro SUV later this year, while Mercedes-Benz’s EQ crossover will also hit the market before the end of 2018.

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