And it’ll cost S$250,000 with COE, or thereabouts. The BMW iX3 is the second electric car from the brand in seven years, but more are on the way — and fast
SINGAPORE — This is the BMW iX3, and it’s coming to Singapore. It’s BMW’s second electric vehicle (EV), and its global launch today comes a full seven years after the appearance of the brand’s first battery-powered car, the i3.
BMW Asia expects to put the car on sale in Singapore in the third quarter of 2021, with a target price of around S$250,000 at today’s Certificate Of Entitlement premiums. That’s roughly half what a Porsche Taycan costs here, but in the neighbourhood of what you’d pay here for a Tesla Model 3, a smaller car.
The name tells you plenty, but just to unpack it, the iX3 is essentially BMW’s X3 with the fossil fuel bits removed and an electric motor and battery setup installed. BMW says it uses the brand’s 5G (or fifth-generation) eDrive electric hardware.
How far will the iX3 go?
Headline numbers for EVs are always about range, and BMW says the iX3 can travel 460km on a single charge, according to the current WLTP protocol. If you want to be safe, knock 20 percent off that, which should get you comfortably to 370km before you need to find a charging station. That’s about nine days’ mileage for the average Singaporean driver.
The 400-volt battery sits below the cabin floor. It stores 74kWh of juice, and BMW says the iX3 will accept rapid direct current (DC) charging at 150kW. Using that, refilling the battery from 0 to 80 percent takes just 34 minutes, while adding 100km of range involves a 10-minute stop.
As a car it’s no slouch. The motor sends 286 horsepower and 400 Newton-metres of torque to the rear wheels. That’ll launch the iX3 to 100km/h in 6.8 seconds; that’s 0.4 seconds slower than the petrol xDrive30i model, but given the instant response of electric drive the iX3 will probably feel like the livelier car to drive.
The batteries are 20 percent more energy dense per kilogramme than in BMW’s previous-gen tech. The 5G hardware also uses two-thirds less cobalt, which is a plus because hazardous waste from mining the material creates a huge environmental toll.
Meanwhile, whatever cobalt is in the car comes from “trusted sources”. That’s one promise BMW chairman and chief executive Oliver Zipse made when presenting the car at its virtual launch today.
The Middle ground
BMW is building the iX3 at its Chinese plant in Shenyang for export to the rest of the world. That’s not because labour is cheap there, but because the Middle Kingdom is the centre of the EV world. China buys more than half the world’s electric cars today (besides buying more regular cars than any other country).
But far from putting all its eggs in one Chinese basket, BMW is committed to a diverse engine strategy. The iX3 adds a fourth drive system to a model that already offers petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid electric powertrain options.
“Our customers will always be able to choose the right drivetrain for their particular needs,” Mr Zipse said, adding that the X3 is an example of the brand’s flexible vehicle platforms. “We can fit this model with any drivetrain we need, and produce them on the same production line. Whatever our customers demand, we deliver.”
How much Singaporeans demand a battery-powered sport utility vehicle from BMW will become clear next year, but we’ll get some indication from sales of rival cars, such as the Audi E-Tron (which is here now) and the Mercedes-Benz EQC, which is due to arrive next year as well.
Meanwhile, BMW’s newest EV is actually already in town and just weeks from going on sale: the battery-powered Mini Cooper SE.
Major rival #1: The Audi E-Tron
Major rival #2: The Mercedes EQC
BMW also plans to put two more EVs, the i4 and i20 (based on the iNext concept car), on sale next year. BMW may have switched on its EV plans seven years ago, but the iX3’s launch marks the moment it stepped on the accelerator.
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