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Beijing show: BMW plugs in with iX3

Battle lines: BMW’s iX3 has a driving range of 400km and can be charged in about 30 minutes, matching the claims of Audi for its forthcoming e-tron quattro electric SUV.

BMW showcases new-generation EV tech with all-electric Concept iX3

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BMW logo25 Apr 2018

BMW has previewed a future electric version of its X3 SUV – the Concept iX3 – at the Beijing motor show.

Offering a driving range of more than 400km, iX3 is likely to be revealed in its production form next year, marking the first time BMW has produced a fully electric version of one of its core models (the existing BMW i3 BEV hatchback falls under the ‘i’ sub-brand).

The German car-maker also confirmed that the production-ready iX3 will share a technological base with the BMW iNext model, due to be revealed in 2021.

The iX3 is in line with BMW’s plans for flexible vehicle architectures allowing front-, rear- and all-wheel drive as well as internal combustion, plug-in hybrid and battery EV on any models.

When the iX3 surfaces in production guise, it will go head to head with other electric SUVs such as the forthcoming Mercedes-Benz EQ and Audi’s e-tron quattro as well as the Jaguar i-Pace and Tesla Model X.

Chinese joint-venture partnership BMW Brilliance Automotive will build the production iX3 at its Shenyang, China, plant, but it is unclear if it will also be built in other countries for international markets.

BMW Group Australia general manager of corporate communications Lenore Fletcher said the company would consider introducing a production version of the iX3.

“BMW is always keen to consider any ground-breaking new product – whether from a performance or sustainability point of view,” she said.

“We already offer a large range of LEVs (low-emission vehicles) in Australia, so of course iX3 has piqued our interest. As the vehicle is still a concept, further details have not been confirmed.”

BMW is yet to reveal much detail about the concept, but it says it uses the fifth generation of its eDrive electric drive system with a motor producing more than 200kW.

The company says the electric drive technology groups the electric motor, transmission and power electronics in a new separate drive component. The new tech is claimed to improve performance characteristics, weight, packaging space and flexibility.

The high-voltage battery has a net capacity of more than 70kWh, ensuring a driving range of more than 400km on the WLTP cycle. By comparison, the smaller i3 BEV has a range of 235-255km on the WLTP cycle.

The energy storage system has a new charging control unit that can be connected to fast-charging stations that generate up to 150kW, allowing for a 30-minute charge.

Earlier this week Audi announced that its e-tron quattro EV SUV can also be charged in less than 30 minutes on up to 150kW of power. TheAudi also has a 400km driving range.

While the design is unmistakably X3, BMW has added flourishes that help identify it as an EV, such as a closed double-kidney grille with blue accents surrounding the grille and BMW logo, as well as running along the side skirts and rear apron. It also features unique aerodynamic light-alloy wheels.

BMW has not revealed any interior images or any details about on-board tech.

The third-generation X3 mid-size SUV went on sale in Australia in November last year.

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