BMW unveils new electric iX3 concept

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11 830x618

The production model will be the first BMW to use a flexible architecture that will underpin combustion engine, plug-in hybrid and battery-powered cars.

BMW says that the iX3's electric drive system is the fifth iteration of its battery technology, and it combines new batteries with an electric motor, transmission, and all the necessary control electronics bundled into one section of the auto.

The BMW Brilliance Automotive joint venture will produce the future series-production version of the BMW Concept iX3 in Shenyang, China. Apparently, the new layout "brings considerable advances in terms of performance characteristics, operating range, weight, packaging space and flexibility". All of which draw power from a newer battery which is more compact - and more powerful, too. The transfer of the drive system technology originally developed for BMW i cars into vehicles from the BMW Group's core brands is entering a new dimension here.

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As is so often the case, the iX3 is a concept in name only. The specific front end with blue accents hint at the electric powertrain hidden under the sheet metal; the rest of the vehicle looks a lot like the X3 now on sale.

There has been no push to create a radical design, though - a decision which distances the iX3 and its future stablemates from BMW's less traditional i3 and i8 models. The trademark blue accents of BMW's "i" range are prominently featured. There's also lots of blue highlighting to reinforce the car's electric credentials, while it also gets "aerodynamically optimised" alloy wheels. Another notable element is that the electric motor does not need any rare earths, which means the BMW Group is not dependent on their availability. A claimed net power capacity of more than 70kWh is said to be enough for a 400km range or more - that's 249 miles, based on WLTP testing. BMW predicts a 150-kilowatt quick charger can top up the battery pack in 30 minutes. For now, BMW has yet to show its interior. That grille is subtly reshaped to give it a bit more of a distinctive flavour, with a strong touch of the styling of that i Vision Dynamics concept.

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