BMW reveals all-electric SUV pricing, fast-charging specs

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When BMW set out to make the iX, it promised to stuff all the latest tech available into its all-electric SUV.

While there was plenty to drool over at the unveiling of its technology flagship on Tuesday in Los Angeles, several of the forward-thinking tech features BMW had showcased in a concept car that preceded the iX didn’t make it into the production vehicle. And a lot of the coolest driving assistance options, like having the car change lanes for you or follow the car in front of you, don’t come standard — and are already offered by other car manufacturers, even BMW itself.

The all-wheel drive BMW iX, which is set to go on sale sometime between January and March 2022, will start at US$83,200, go about 300 miles on a single charge, has a top speed of 144 mph, and bursts from 0-62 mph in 4.6 seconds. Its dual motors provide 516 horsepower.

One of its biggest competitors, Tesla’s Long Range Model X SUV with 340 miles of range starts at about the same price, US$83,190.

With DC Fast Charging, the fastest charging level available, it’ll get 90 miles of charge in 10 minutes, said Don Smith, a BMW product manager. That’s speedy compared to the 30 minutes it’ll take Chevrolet’s new all-electric SUV, the Bolt EUV, to get nearly the same charge. Tesla’s comparable supercharger can add more than 100 miles to its applicable cars in that timeframe. Electric car manufacturers are striving to extend range and offer faster charging to alleviate range anxiety.

The iX is part of BMW’s push to have half of its fleet be fully electric by 2030. That goal trails far behind other manufacturers, such as Volvo, Bentley, and Jaguar, which plan to only produce electric cars by then in order to, you guessed it, compete with Tesla.

BMW President and CEO Bernhard Kuhnt said it’s not just up to carmakers to pave the way for an electrified future. They need governmental agencies to provide better infrastructure, as in more fast-charging stations, and incentives for consumers to speed up the adoption process, he said. He didn’t elaborate on what those incentives should be, but federal and state governments have offered limited tax refunds and cash rebates in the past, although some are running out for certain manufacturers which have hit sales caps. Proposed legislation that would increase the federal tax credits from US$7,500 to US$12,500 and remove sales caps is making its way through Capitol Hill.

Here’s what’s missing in the iX, compared to the iNext concept car that set the tone for what BMW was striving for with this all-electric SUV:

  • The iNext didn’t have rear-view mirrors, instead opting for side cameras along the edge of the car. The iX still has rear-view mirrors.

  • The iNext had facial recognition to change the car’s settings based on who’s driving, but that’s not in the iX. The iX does have cameras that will track whether the driver is paying attention to the road when using driver-assistance features like automatic lane changing. Like other cars with similar tech, the cameras don’t record.

  • The iNext teased more autonomous driving features, but the iX falls short there. For more money, you can buy the option to have the car change lanes for you and slow to a stop automatically as the car in front of you slows (with hands still on the wheel), but these capabilities are available in other BMWs and come standard in Teslas. Another extra-cost option is emergency stop assistance, which when activated will pull you onto the shoulder, turn on hazard lights, and call BMW assistance for you.

Here’s some of the tech that will come in the iX:

  • The decorative kidney grille houses radar and camera features as well as a heater that can melt snow and ice, which can hamstring the smart tech.

  • Radiant heating, placed near the driver’s knees and the glove box for the front passenger, warms up the car without hot air.

  • Haptic feedback controls in the center console

  • The iX will remember your driving preferences based on your stored settings. When you approach the car with your phone, it will unlock and adjust to your personal settings using ultra-wideband technology, a radio technology available in certain smartphones. Several automakers use Bluetooth so you can use your phone as a key, but Smith said ultra-wideband tech is more secure when it comes to potential hacks.

  • Once you set a DC Fast Charging station in your navigation, the iX will prepare the battery for charging as you near. That tech, along with battery cooling mechanisms, helps it get that zippy 90 miles in 10 minutes charge. “The car is smart enough to precondition the battery,” Smith said.

  • Speakers in all headrests and bass shakers in the front seats that vibrate on passengers’ backs.

  • An overhead interior camera can take photos of passengers via voice control or the touch of a button. It can also be set to only take photos when at least one person in the shot is smiling. The photos can then be sent to a phone with a BMW app.

  • Available 5G support

  • Lane keep assist, which steers you back when you drift out of a lane, and lane departure warning, which lets you know when you’re approaching or crossing a lane line, come standard.

  • The BMW emblem in the front of the car pops open with a push of a finger and you can pour windshield wiper fluid in there — no need to pop the hood to top it off. Sprinklers wash off front and back cameras to clear away dirt.

  • Flush door handles

While the car doesn’t compete with Tesla when it comes to driver assistance tech — Tesla also has its own issues releasing new features that may not be safe out in the wild — Smith said it does have hardware for greater driver assistance functions in the future that could be transmitted via software updates. What those may be is still under wraps.

“That’s TBD,” he said.

Also TBD: Any details about a future iX M60 electric crossover, which BMW said would be more powerful than this iX with more than 600 hp.

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