At the Beijing auto show this week the Germans launched a new zero-emissions BMW iX3 concept, but someone high up at Jaguar Land Rover thinks it’s not the way to go…
Munich chose the Beijing auto show to reveal the new iX3 concept crossover, featuring an all-electric powertrain and scheduled to roll out as the first electric BMW model by the year 2020.
Unlike rivals from Mercedes, Volkswagen and Jaguar, the Bavarians are not developing an EV-dedicated architecture for the iX3, but will instead be adapting the conventional combustion-engined X3 to take a zero-emissions powertrain – the Beijing concept premiered with a 270bhp electric motor and a quoted range of more than 400 kilometre from the 70kWh battery pack.
Within a couple of years BMW will be manufacturing the electric iX3 in the company’s Chinese plant in Shenyang amongst other locations.
Meanwhile an ex BMW board member has a bit of an issue with his former employer’s take on an electric crossover.
Speaking to Motormouth, Jaguar Land Rover tech boss and the father of the Jaguar I-Pace Dr Wolfgang Ziebart, criticised BMW’s iX3, and it had nothing to do with the Bavarians messing up the traditional kidney grille design.
“Normally the combustion engine takes up more space than a small, electric motor, which is more or less located in between the wheels,” explains Dr Ziebart. “So with a dedicated electric platform you can reduce the size and length of the front end significantly, and that’s obviously beneficial for weight and aerodynamics.
“You also get more interior room for the exterior dimensions, so outside the car doesn’t have to change but the passengers will have more space. If you look at Volkswagen, they decided to launch a bespoke platform just for electric vehicles, full stop, and that is the way to go,” says Dr Ziebart.
From later this year Dr Ziebart’s I-Pace will go on sale starting at around $70,000, with a claimed range of 480km and a system total of some 400 horsepower. Jaguar had the luxury of time with the I-Pace, with the Brits (NB: headed by a German) starting development work on the I-Pace back in 2013 as soon as Dr Ziebart came out of retirement to join company. He believes that pressed for time, BMW was left with no choice but to respond hastily to their rivals.
“Obviously, they wanted to rush to market,” he says. “In particular with BMW this is the case, they wanted to rush, and they had to use what they had…”