The first prototypes for an electric version of the BMW X3 have been spotted.
The vehicle, which is expected to go by the name iX3, is confirmed for launch in late 2020, meaning we'll likely see it arrive as a 2021 model.
After stumbling with the oddball i3, BMW decided to change its approach to electric cars by developing battery-powered versions of its core models as opposed to launching standalone EVs. The move makes more sense now that electric cars are becoming more widely accepted, and it will also save the automaker a boatload as the costs of developing EVs can be shared with their internal combustion cousins.
The iX3 will be one of 12 electric cars the BMW Group will launch by the end of 2025. The first will be an electric Mini Hardtop due in 2019. The iX3 will follow in 2020 and the much-hyped iNext in 2021. The BMW Group hasn't revealed the identities of the other electric cars but a sports car is believed to be part of the lineup.
BMW electrification roadmap
The iX3 prototype, which is devoid of any exhaust tips, has the label “Electric Test Vehicle” on its flanks. There's also a charging port on the driver's side front fender and a flat battery pack can be clearly seen beneath the vehicle. It's likely a more integrated design will feature on the final version.
The BMW Group is known to be investigating solid-state batteries and has a fifth-generation battery design that promises more than 400 miles on a single charge. However, this isn't expected until the iNext in 2021. Still, we're expecting considerably more range than the 114 miles of the i3 in the iX3. Factor on there being at least 200 miles on a single charge and a single electric motor at each axle.
But what about BMW’s i sub-brand, which was established for vehicles with alternative powertrains? With electrification increasingly becoming the norm, BMW in 2016 changed the focus of the i sub-brand to self-driving and connectivity technologies. It means we might not see direct replacements for the brand's i3 and i8 once the models reach the end of their respective life cycles.