Before the next i8 arrives on the scene, BMW will launch the iNext, an electric SUV with advanced autonomous technology. Imagined by DRIVE-MY, the new model has already begun winter testing in Sweden in prototype form ahead of its 2021 launch.
The iNext was first revealed in concept form at last year’s Los Angeles motor show. It sits on a radical new platform that’s different from those used by other planned i models, including the iX3 SUV and i4 saloon. The model is similar in size to the X5 and will serve as a technology flagship for BMW. It’s set to be built at the firm’s Dingolfing plant in Germany. The iNext’s platform is one of two destined to be used for all future BMW models. This one will be used for all natively rear-wheel- drive models. The other, called FAAR, will underpin compact front-wheel-drive models in the 1 Series and 2 Series family, as well as models in the Mini range.
The iNext’s electric architecture is said to allow greater cabin space than today’s X5, with the forward section of the cabin expanding towards the front of the car thanks to the absence of a combustion engine.
The electric powertrain underneath the iNext will be significantly more powerful yet capable of a much longer range than BMW’s first EV, the i3. BMW sources suggest up to 450 miles will be possible for future X-Series EVs, but there’s no indication yet if the iNext will manage to get this far.
Another significant aspect of the iNext’s flagship status will be its demonstration of advanced autonomous technology. With a newly developed autonomy processing unit, the SUV will be the first BMW capable of level three (hands off and eyes off) autonomous driving at speeds of up to 80mph on motorways. The firm will test level four and level five autonomous systems in 2021 on a fleet of pilot cars.