The production version of the BMW Vision iNext concept due in 2020 will be the first car from the firm to use a radical new platform that will enable it to produce conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, plug-in hybrids and pure EVs using the same basic architecture and on the same production line.
The production version of the iNext concept – which BMW is terming a ‘Sports Activity Vehicle’ (SAV), in a nod to the original X5 from 1999 – will be built on the new architecture that will underpin future BMW models from the 3-series upwards, and will allow a rear-engine configuration in some.
The firm will build all of its future models on two platforms, one for front-wheel drive cars and one for all- and rear-wheel drive machines.
On the latter platform pure EVs, such as the Vision iNext, will use a rear-mounted drivetrain as standard. Plug-in hybrid models will have both a rear-mounted electric engine and a transversely-mounted ICE driving the front wheels. Pure ICE models will retain the classic BMW rear-drive layout.
Other options will include twin-engined all-wheel drive EVs and conventional mechanical all-wheel drive ICE models.
BMW sources say that the maximum range of the pure EV models could be up to 450 miles in future X series cars (which are likely to have a bigger battery capacity), while the plug-in hybrids will get a range of around 60 miles.
The new architecture will also incorporate a new autonomous technology platform which will eventually offer level five autonomy, which does not require a driver. BMW showed all three prototype autonomy ‘PAD’ processing units in LA, the smallest of which will first appear in 2021 on the production iNext offering ‘hands off and eyes off’ level three autonomy at up to 80mph on motorways.