These days, the new hip thing to do in the automotive world is go electric. Everyone's doing it, from sports car companies like Porsche and Lamborghini to truck-and-SUV mainstays like Ford and GMC — and BMW is no exception. After all, Tesla has already proven just how deep and wide the market is for high-end electric sedans and SUVs, and with Bimmer's traditional arch-rivals of Mercedes-Benz and Audi planning EV onslaughts of their own, the Bavarian Motor Werks has little choice but to respond in kind.
We've know for a while now what the tip of BMW's electric spear would be: the iX crossover and the i4 sedan. We've seen them teased almost endlessly for some time, but now, BMW has finally given us all the details about the two electric vehicles' arrival in America, complete with pricing, range and all those juicy high-tech features. Here's what we know.
Standing at the top of the i4 lineup at launch will be the 2022 BMW i4 M50 — which, as the name suggests, will be the higher-performance version of the new EV. With an electric motor distributing power to each axle, the dual-motor M50 will whip up 536 horsepower and 586 lb-ft — more than the new M3 and M4. (Also, BMW made a point to reveal that the new i4 comes with launch control, so those M-car buyers might want to watch out if they roll up to the line next to this EV.)
And while it may not be a full-fledged M car the way those models are, it is still a BMW, so it certainly shouldn't embarrass itself in the turns. The battery pack that lies beneath the occupants is low and flat — just 4.3 inches tall — thus bringing down the center of gravity. Plus, with a starting price of $66,895, the i4 M50 undercuts the M3 by several thousand dollars.
For those who don't need to accelerate away from traffic lights as though they've been fired off an aircraft carrier catapult, there's the base model, the 2022 BMW i4 eDrive 40. It makes do with just one electric motor, mounted on the rear axle and producing 335 horsepower. The price starts at $56,395.
Both versions of the i4 use the same battery pack, which offers 81.5 kWh of usable storage (versus 84 kWh of overall space). Not surprisingly, then, given the greater demand on said pack by the M50's dual motors, the hotter versions offers less range than the eDrive40. BMW estimates the i4 M50 will travel around 245 miles on a charge, whereas the i4 eDrive40 should cover around 300 miles before running out of juice.
The new i4 can take on electrons at up to 200 kW, faster than most electric cars you can buy in America as of June 2021. (It's also more than most EV fast chargers can put out, at least for now, but that's a short-term problem.) Find a plug that puts out power at that current, and it can tack on 90 miles of range in just 10 minutes.
For those times you need to charge at home — which, let's face it, will likely be where you do most of your charging — the i4 can also slurp up AC power at an impressive 11 kW, enabling it to go from depleted to 100 percent power in eight hours.
Inside, the biggest difference between the i4 and, say, the similarly sized 3 Series is the presence of the new BMW Curved Display, which seems to merge the 12.3-inch digital instrument panel and 14.9-inch infotainment display into one sweeping arc of screens. (Don't worry about the screens being washed out by the light from the large standard sunroof; they're non-reflective.) A new version of iDrive is designed to make it easier to interface with the car using both the touchscreen and voice commands.
Sedans, though, are so outré these days; people want crossovers. To satisfy those hordes, BMW's new EV lineup will also launch with the iX — and as you might guess from the name, it's meant to be a more definitive vision of Bimmer's future than the somewhat-conservative-by-comparison i4.
In other words...yeah, it looks weird. BMW has leaned fully into its newest design language with the iX, resulting in a crossover with an overinflated version of the 4 Series face, a rear C/D-pillar area that's vaguely reminiscent of the i3 and a rear that looks as bemused as most people will be when they see the car for the first time.
The new crossover will launch in American in the form of the 2022 BMW iX xDrive50. As the name suggests, it boasts all-wheel-drive via dual electric motors, with a total output of 516 horsepower and 568 lb-ft of torque. The 0-60-mph dash takes a claimed 4.6 seconds, though like most electric cars, the instantaneous torque delivery means it'll likely feel quicker. (And if that's not enough for you, an iX M60 model packing more than 600 ponies is coming eventually.)
Like with the i4, the iX can charge at rates of up to 200 kW on a fast charger or 11 kW on AC power. However, its battery is substantially larger, with a usable capacity of 106 kWh and a total capacity of 111.5 kWh, so it takes a little longer to charge on a Level 2 hookup; expect 0-100 percent in about 11 hours on the 11 kW charger. (10 minutes of Level 3 charging should still add around 90 miles of range, however.) Base price: $84,195.
As the new flagship of the BMW i line, the iX boasts a bounty of new tech features. That hog nose grille? Not only does it house the sensors for many of the active safety and semi-autonomous driving features, but it even can heal itself if scratched. The body shell is largely composed of carbon fiber and thermoplastics, to reduce mass. And like the i4, its climate control system uses an advanced heat pump setup, so you don't have to worry (as much) about the heater scavenging too much power in cold weather.
The inside of this crossover is almost as wild-looking as its exterior, too. Like the i4, there's a curved instrument panel / infotainment display on the dashboard, but here, the vehicle and its iDrive 8 system are paired with 5G connectivity, enabling users to turn the car into a rolling hot spot with blazing Internet speeds (assuming, of course, you can find super-fast 5G).
The iX will also be the first BMW to use the Digital Key Plus tech developed with Apple, which uses ultra-wideband technology to pair and sync the car with the iPhone's U1 chip (the same tech that makes AirTags work so well). Once your iPhone is paired with the car, you don't need to lug around a conventional key anymore; the iX will unlock automatically as you approach and let you drive off without even taking your phone from your pocket.
BMW says both the iX crossover and the i4 sedan should arrive in the United States in the first quarter of 2022.
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