Home: Motoring > New crossover previews third dedicated BMW i model due out in 2021

BMW reveals new Vision iNext concept

From:Greg Kable 2018-09-16 06:00:01

BMW’s i division has previewed the next model in its dedicated range of pure electric and electrified hybrid vehicles with the unveiling of the Vision iNext concept.

The distinctive new crossover is set to become the third BMW i model when it goes on sale in 2021, following on from the petrol-electric i8 and the battery-powered i3, both introduced in 2013, in a role BMW says will position it as a “new technology flagship” for the German brand.

The fourth in a quartet of electric-powered concepts to have been revealed since BMW’s centenary in 2016, the Vision iNext is described as an "innovation concept" that BMW chairman, Harald Kruger, says provides the building blocks for the future.

“BMW now has ten years of experience with electric mobility in both small- and large-scale production. The next step is the complete in-car integration of the fields of autonomy, connectivity, electric and services.”

Kruger says the new i model provides answers to the question: “What does a vehicle look like which no longer needs to be driven by a person but can be if desired.”

The description backs up earlier claims by senior BMW officials that the next i model will feature new autonomous driving technologies in combination with newly developed connectivity solutions, revised electric drive systems and a series of new app-based services.

Rolling on 24-inch wheels, the iNext is claimed to provide a glimpse of how BMW i’s next model, largely expected to be badged the i5, will appear when it goes into production at the company’s Dingolfing plant in Germany in less than three years.

The exterior, painted in a shade BMW calls Liquid Grey Rose Copper, incorporates a series of design touches already showcased on the Vision Next 100, Vision Dynamics and Vision iX3 concepts.

Key elements include a bold new interpretation of BMW’s classic kidney grille that has been blanked off for added aerodynamic efficiency, slim-line headlamps set underneath the leading edge of the bonnet, prominent wheelarches, a distinctive side window graphic without traditional B-pillars and a slope tailgate featuring a larger spoiler element to smooth air-flow across the rear end and thin OLED tail lamps positioned horizontally to emphasise the width of the new concept.

As with the soon-to-be-unveiled Audi e-tron quattro, BMW envisages providing the production version of the Vision iNext with rear view cameras in place of traditional mirrors, as included on the new concept.

BMW’s design team, lead by Adrian van Hooydonk, has also hinted the upcoming sister model to the i3 and i8 may also receive large coach style doors – those up front hinging from the front and those at the rear hinging at the rear in a move that provides uninterrupted access to its interior.

Inside, the Vision iNext showcases BMW’s ideas for fully autonomous driving with a driving position offering the choice between Boost mode and Ease mode – the former of which is designed for those wanting to drive themselves and the later conceived for those seeking to be driven.

Continuing the theme seen on the i3, the dashboard boasts a reduced look with natural materials, including open pore wood accents that, von Hooydonk says, have been designed to resemble a floating coffee table. It is topped by two high definition monitors.

While the Vision iNext concept provides seating for five, the production version of new BMW i model is set to provide accommodation for up to seven, according to senior BMW officials.

BMW is holding back on detailed information pertaining to the autonomous driving technology, connectivity functions, electric drive system and services planned for its new i model, although recent rumours suggest it could be among the first production cars to benefit from solid-state battery technology in a move that could conceivably provide it with a much higher range than recently unveiled crossover competitors, including the Mercedes-Benz EQ C.

When it goes on sale in 2021, the production version of the Vision iNext will line up alongside a revised version of the i8 and i3 as well as a range of electric powered core models, including the new pure electric Mini planned for introduction in 2019 and the X3-based iX3 revealed in concept car form at the 2018 Beijing motor show and set for production in 2020 boasting a range put at “more than 400km” on the new WLTP test cycle.

By 2025, BMW plans to offer 25 electrified models, including 12 featuring pure electric drive. 

The Vision iNext has been the subject of a global media program with unveilings held in a series of secret workshops in Munich, New York, San Francisco and Beijing over the past week.   


Editor:Greg Kable