| 2:17 PM EST

BMW Preps to Launch First Electric SUV

Production is on track to begin this summer in China
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BMW says it will start making its first all-electric crossover vehicle, the iX3, this summer.

The small SUV will be sole-sourced from BMW’s joint venture plant in Shenyang, China. Chairman Oliver Zipse says the car will launch on time in spite of disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

BMW’s iX3 electric SUV  (Image: BMW)

More Models to Come

The iX3 is notable for its flexible platform, which also can accommodate a hybrid or conventional piston powertrain. The chassis also reportedly will carry BMW’s i4 high-performance electric sport sedan due in 2021.

BMW aims to add a dozen EVs and 13 hybrid models by 2023.

The new iX3 will feature a 74-kW, lithium-nickel-cobalt-manganese battery and updated electric motor that delivers 286 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels. The motor eliminates the need for rare earth materials, a first for BMW’s electric drives.

To cut battery costs, BMW lowered the cobalt content and is directly purchasing and supplying cobalt and lithium for its cell supplier. The unusually high energy density of the design provides an exceptionally good range-to-weight ratio compared with rival EVs, according to the company.

Greater Efficiency

BMW says the powertrain, which integrates the motor, gearbox and power electronics, has a power-to-weight ratio that is 30% better than the previous system.

The iX3 can travel about 273 miles (440 km) on Europe’s WLTP test cycle. BMW attributes about 6 miles (10 km) of that distance to the vehicle’s unusual aerodynamic wheels, which comprise an aluminum structure and bonded lightweight aero inserts.

The combination, which is 15% lighter than BMW’s previous aero wheel design, lowers overall vehicle drag by 5%. The two-part construction enables the company to modify the look of the wheels with different shapes, colors and finishes.