Electric cars account for about 2 percent of all new vehicles sold in America; however, an increasing number of prominent automakers are committing (and betting) that the future of the automobile rides on electrification. Two of the newest models on the horizon come from BMW — the all-new i4 Gran Coupe and the iX Sport Activity Vehicle. These two models represent a new generation of all-electric vehicles from the German automaker, both designed to be extremely efficient while retaining the performance and luxury expected of a BMW.
The 2022 BMW i4 and iX will be built on a new modular, scalable architecture offering versatility and efficiency. Both vehicles draw power from BMW’s fifth-generation eDrive system, which encompasses the electric motors, power electronics, charging system and high-voltage battery. BMW says these new vehicles will “redefine the driving experience, the feeling of space inside and the relationship between vehicles and those on board.” The i4 and iX are considerably more advanced yet designed to be more mainstream than the somewhat eclectic i3 — BMW’s current EV offering.
BMW’s fifth-generation eDrive system features lithium-ion batteries that have a 20-percent increase in gravimetric energy density over the previous generation. The iX gets a 111.5 kWh battery, while the i4’s battery has a gross capacity of 83.9 kWh. The batteries sit low beneath the vehicle floor of both vehicles, dropping the center of gravity for improved agility and handling.
These latest-generation batteries can be charged at up to 200 kW, which means the i4 Gran Coupe can climb from 10 percent to 80 percent charge in a mere 31 minutes when connected to a DC fast charger. With an 11 kW Level 2 charger — typically what would be installed at home — the i4 can reach 100 percent charge in about eight hours. With a slightly larger battery, the iX Sports Activity Vehicle will reach 80 percent in about 40 minutes on a DC fast charger, and the Level 2 charger will take about 11 hours for a full charge.
The new i4 will initially be offered in two trim levels: i4 eDrive40 and i4 M50, the latter representing BMW’s first all-electric performance model. The i4 eDrive40 has a base price of $55,400, while the i4 M50 bumps up the price to $65,900. The i4 should begin arriving in showrooms during the first quarter of 2022.
With a design based on the recently updated 4 Series Gran Coupe, the i4’s signature BMW kidney grille is actually a closed surface, since the EV motor requires scant airflow up front for cooling. Instead, the front camera as well as ultrasonic and radar sensors get integrated into the space. Slim full-LED headlights flank the grille, with lines flowing smoothly into the hood.
Since exhaust outlets are not needed for an all-electric powertrain, the i4 uses the lower section of the rear bumper to improve aerodynamics. The high-tech look continues with long, slim L-shaped LED taillights. Designers and engineers did a great job integrating the rearview camera within the BMW logo.
The BMW i4 eDrive40 uses a single electric motor to drive the rear wheels, with output rated at 335 horsepower and 317 lb-ft of torque — available instantly. BMW says the eDrive40 will accelerate to 62 mph (100 kph) in 5.7 seconds and has a top speed of 118 mph. BMW engineers anticipate that the eDrive40 will have a range of up to 300 miles between charges.
The high-performance i4 M50 upgrades with two motors — a 255-horspower unit driving the front wheels, and a 308-horsepower rear motor for a combined output of 536 horsepower and 586 lb-ft of torque. With that much power on tap, the M50 sprints to 62 mph in 3.9 seconds —merely a tenth slower than the M4 Competition. Since the M50 uses the same battery as the eDrive40, the additional motor, weight and higher performance all reduce the driving range. BMW estimates the M50 will have a range of up to 240 miles.
Inside, the new BMW i4 has elements similar to those of the gas-powered 4 Series, although the i4 has a much more high-tech demeanor. The instrument panel is slim and low, making space for a 14.9-inch center display and a 12.3-inch driver display that merge into a single curved screen. This elegant display attaches in a way that makes it appear to be freestanding — like a screen sitting on a shelf. Vehicle functions can be accessed via voice or a central controller that operates the latest version of BMW iDrive.
The 2022 BMW i4 has sport seats and a sport steering wheel with multifunction buttons — both standard equipment on all i4 variants. A blue Start button as well as blue accents throughout the cabin reflect the electric powertrain. A tri-zone climate control system is also standard, as well as acoustic glazing for the windshield and large glass sunroof.
Going on sale in the U.S. at the same time as the i4, the new BMW iX will initially be available in a single trim — the iX xDrive50. This BMW all-wheel-drive Sport Activity Vehicle will have a base retail price of $83,200. An iX M60 boasting more than 600 horsepower will join the lineup at a future date.
Unlike the i4, which has design elements derived from the current 4 Series, the iX introduces a new look for BMW crossovers with a futuristic take on the traditional kidney grille and twin headlights. The full LED headlights are the slimmest ever used on a BMW, integrating around the large grille and assimilating with the sculpted hood. The hood mimics the grille design for a 3D effect. The iX is about the same length and width as a BMW X5, and almost the same height as an X6.
In keeping with the slippery nature of the iX design, door handles fit flush with door surfaces. The doors have frameless windows and engineers optimized the exterior mirrors for airflow and visibility. The iX charging port is located where a fuel-filler cap would be on a typical BMW — the right-rear wheel arch.
Like the LED headlights, the taillights of the iX are the slimmest LEDs ever on a BMW. A rearview camera resides within the large BMW logo and gets automatically cleaned as needed. Also similar to the i4, the rear bumper of the iX adds to the crossover’s overall aerodynamics.
Again, like the i4, the kidney grille of the 2022 BMW iX has no openings into the engine bay since the vehicle has no internal-combustion engine to cool. Instead, engineers integrated sensors behind its transparent surface. The heating elements and cleaning system for the sensors are embedded in the grille as well. And since iX owners will have nothing to check or maintain under the hood, it can only be opened by BMW service technicians. The BMW roundel logo opens as a filler cap for the windshield washer fluid — apparently the only maintenance expected of a consumer.
“The BMW iX shows how we can give new technologies a very modern and emotional design. The car is technologically complex, but it feels very clear and uncomplicated,” said Senior Vice President of BMW Group Design Adrian van Hooydonk. “The BMW iX offers a mobile living space in which people will feel at ease, where the car’s intelligence is only there when you need it,” van Hooydonk noted.
The BMW iX has an electric motor for front and rear wheels with a total output of 516 horsepower. BMW expects this small crossover to reach 60 mph in 4.6 seconds, have a top speed of 124 mph, and have a range of 300 miles. The intelligent electric all-wheel-drive system can vary the torque front and rear as needed, operating as a more efficient rear-wheel-drive vehicle or engaging the front wheels as needed.
Again similar to the i4, the iX displays all driver and infotainment information on one large, curved display. The single piece of glass has a magnesium housing and an anti-reflective coating. Combining the 12.3-inch driver information display and 14.9-inch control display gives the interior a futuristic look. Another first for a BMW: the iX has a hexagonal steering wheel featuring new multifunction buttons with control pads. The steering wheel also gets three-stage heating — another first.
The only physical buttons in the cabin of the 2022 BMW iX are on the steering wheel and center console. BMW’s familiar iDrive controller looks jewel-like, while controls surrounding it are haptic buttons integrated into the surface. The new gear selector is a rocker switch rather than the customary selector.
Front seats newly developed for the iX have a sporty look as well as integrated head restraints. An integrated speaker is also available, as are heating, cooling and massaging functions. Thanks to the flat floor of the 2022 BMW iX, the rear seat offers plentiful legroom in all three seating positions, and multiple USB-C ports are available for all passengers. The standard single-piece transparent roof, the largest ever on a BMW, provides a more spacious feeling inside. The roof has electrochromic shading — rather than deploying a physical shade, the roof can be turned opaque with the touch of a button.
Both the 2022 BMW i4 and iX are expected to arrive in showrooms during the first quarter of 2022.