Electric version of X3 SUV will feature new all-wheel drive powertrain; following i models will utilise different forms of set-up

BMW will introduce its most advanced electric powertrain technology yet in 2020 when it launches a zero-emissions version of its X3 SUV.

Set to be called the iX3, it will arrive as part of the updated third-generation X3 range and be the first car to get all-new zero-emissions underpinnings that are being developed for use in all of BMW’s next-generation EVs.

Spy photographers have caught an i3X development car testing in Scandinavia, where the range of its battery pack is being evaluated in conditions that regularly dip below -10deg.

The electric powertrain of this car, which is based on today's X3, which arrived last year, is evident from the lack of water vapour from tailpipes as it drives away. In these sub-zero conditions, combustion engine tailpipes almost always produce vapour.

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The sighting of an EV X3 so early into the future car's development cycle shows that the platform of the future line-up is being engineered to adopt an electric powertrain from the off. This is essential for effective packaging to ensure cabin space is not compromised by the placement of batteries in the car’s floor.

The iX3's structure will be a development of BMW’s CLAR structure, which underpins the X3, as well as the latest 5 Series and 7 Series models and will be used in the 2019 BMW 3 Series.

Although the iX3 will probably feature a grille-free nose to reduce drag, it's overall design is unlikely to drastically differ from its combustion engine siblings'. The BMW Group’s latest stance on EV design is to be more discreet; Mini brand boss Sebastian Mackensen told Autocar recently that the marque “doesn’t need to make a big statement” about EVs.

The electric architecture beneath the iX3 will be the most advanced put into production by BMW. The iX3 will use two electric motors, one mounted up front driving the front wheels and a second at the rear within the axle assembly to drive the rear wheels. This set=up will enable torque vectoring to enhance traction.

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The electric layout will come as part of BMW's fifth-generation EV platform and will be used in 11 further electric BMWs due to arrive by 2025.

Not all of those cars will adapt the twin-motor setup employed by the iX3, however; models less concerned with all-wheel drive traction could adopt a simpler layout, which uses a front-mounted electric motor in combination with a fixed-ratio gearbox and so-called electric propeller shaft to channel drive to the rear wheels.

Each of BMW's new electric models will have an 'i' at the start of its name to signify its EV status. BMW recently patented a list of nine names spanning from iX1 to iX9, although not all will necessarily be used because most will be aligned with current models in the line-up.

BMW patented the i1 to i9 names back in 2010, before the i3 and i8 arrived. The largest confirmed model for BMW’s future range is the X7.

The brand will also produce an electric version of the future 4 Series GT, called the i4, in 2020 and an i5, which was previewed by the i Vision Dynamics concept and is due in 2021.

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1 March 2018

Surely this will come as part of a mid-life update to the (new) current X3.

On a related issue, I was surprised that I can fit a set of golf clubs across the boot of my 640D but you can't in the supposedly more practical X3.



1 March 2018
johnhg wrote:

On a related issue, I was surprised that I can fit a set of golf clubs across the boot of my 640D but you can't in the supposedly more practical X3.


Yeah, I am sure that the fact that you can’t put a set of golf clubs in sideways will put so many buyers off.  Oh, wait, they can put them in lengthways, or diagonally, or several sets one on top of another (bet you can’t do that in a 640d!).

1 March 2018

Funny how the writer of this article thinks that the lack of water vapour out of this car’s tailpipes is evidence of the car’s electric Powertrain.

I would have thought that the fact that it doesn’t actually have any tailpipes might be an even bigger clue!

1 March 2018

Actually Martin66, you can put the back seat of my 640GC down and carry two sets of clubs and two electric tolleys etc in it. Not everyone wants to pile stuff on top of other stuff so that it obscures rearward vision, is on show and is unstable. Maybe a small sample of potential customers but the salesman I spoke to said he has lost X3 sales for that reason. (A fair number of XK8 owners never switched to the later XK because, for a grand tourer, its boot was pretty useless. )


1 March 2018

......and with the back seats down where do the rear seat passengers go?  Do they sit on the electric trolleys?

1 March 2018

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that for the same amount of stuff you would also have to put the rear seats of the X3 down - and that, because of its internal width restrictions, for golfists (as Clarkson terms us) it doesn't offer much over our Mk1 Countryman, which takes up a lot less road space.


1 March 2018

We have a mark 1 X3, and the boot space is huge.  This latest one is even bigger.  There is absolutely no way that you will ever be able to put as much stuff in the  back of a 6 series as you can in an X3, golf clubs sideways notwithstanding.

You have to remember who this car is aimed at - families, I.e. people with children, people who need a big boot and space for 4 or 5people and all their baggage, not retired old duffers who spend their days at the golf club.

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