BMW World SG 2021: iX3 gives glimpse of BMW’s near-term future

What happens between now and a future world of electric cars? You’ll see the answer at BMW World SG

SINGAPORE — For all the cars on sale at BMW World SG, a mini motorshow with more than 30 of the German brand’s models on display and running from now until February 19, 2021, perhaps the most interesting is the one you can’t buy. The BMW iX3 is an electric car that’s in town half a year ahead of its scheduled launch here.

Electricity figures heavily in BMW’s plans for 2021 in Singapore. By year’s end it aims to have nine different cars available that come with a charging port, either because they run purely on battery power or because they use electricity to supplement petrol. The iX3 belongs to the former category.

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On a single charge, it should cover 500km. It has 268 horsepower and accelerates to 100km/h in 6.8 seconds. BMW says its powertrain contains no rare-earth metals, which are highly pollutive to extract.

BMW World SG has a corner for electrified cars ‘Joy Electrified’, where you’ll find such cars as the 530e, a new plug-in hybrid electric vehicle that is actually slightly cheaper than its petrol siblings.

Yet, the iX3 sits on the main showroom floor instead, parked between plug-in and regular petrol versions of the X3, a popular Sport Utility Vehicle for the brand. It’s easy to walk past it without knowing that it’s BMW’s newest weapon in the war against Tesla, the American company that only builds electric cars.

Interior of the BMW iX3

Yet, placing the iX3 amongst regular X3 models is meant to send a message: soon you’ll be able to buy your favourite BMW with your choice of an engine, a motor or some combination of the two. Today it’s the X3, but tomorrow it will be the 5 Series or 7 Series.

BMW calls this choice of powertrain idea the “power of choice”. Going all-in on battery power has been ludicrously popular with investors, as the rich valuation of Tesla and other start-up electric car companies on the stock market shows, but BMW has a more measured approach to future mobility in mind. Famed for its characterful piston engines, the company sees the ongoing switch to battery power as a slow transition. It believes fossil fuel engines will stay relevant for years to come.

Christopher Wehner, the managing director of BMW Asia

“Countries develop at different speeds towards electromobility,” Christopher Wehner, the managing director of BMW Asia, told the press yesterday at BMW World SG. “Electrification is not a sprint.”

BMW is so committed to hedging its bets on future propulsion that it can build cars with pistons alongside those with batteries on the same production line. That flexibility gives it the ability to respond quickly to consumer demand as it evolves, Mr Wehner says.

Mr Wehner pulled strings to have the iX3 in town early. He once headed up product planning for BMW’s mid-size cars, and called some chums in his old department so that Singapore would be the first country in ASEAN to have the electric SUV on display. That move reflects his excitement about the iX3, but also what it represents. “I think in 2021 we will have a very electrified year,” he said.

about the author

Leow Ju-Len
Leow Ju-Len is a lot older than he behaves. He's been writing about cars for 23 years. Someday he might do it coherently. Ju-Len believes in world peace and V8s, but not necessarily in that order.