Winter testing in a BMW i4: Pushing batteries to the limit
Camouflaged electric prototypes charge through the snow at a remote test location in northern Sweden… nothing unusual about that these days. But look carefully at that grille. Isn’t it a little kidney-shaped?
This is BMW’s advance guard of new electric cars undergoing cold weather testing prior to the first, the iX3 battery-powered SUV, going on sale next year. The other cars shown here are the i4 four-door coupe and the production version of the iNEXT luxury SUV. All will join the i3 city car and the i8 supercar by the end of 2021 in BMW’s fast-expanding electric range.
Both the iX3 and i4 are battery-powered versions of the X3 and 4-series respectively, while the iNEXT – which we have already seen in concept form – is the precursor of an all-new luxury model to feature the latest in solid state batteries and autonomous technology.
Cold weather is the enemy of battery power and it doesn’t get much colder than BMW’s test centre in Arjeplog. Running out of juice in the Arctic Circle is definitely not a good idea, which is why the sub-zero durability testing is majoring on ensuring the new BMW models have plenty of range even in extreme conditions.
The electric X3’s range is rated at 400km (248 miles) under the new WLTP test regime, while the i4 is claimed to have a range of 600km (373 miles). The i4 four-door coupe is the sportier of the pair, with BMW saying its fifth-gen iPower technology will see it accelerate from 0-62mph in 4.0 seconds. To be made in Munich alongside the regular 3 and 4-series cars, the i4 is BMW’s rival for the Tesla Model 3.
The iX3, to be made in China as a joint venture with BMW’s partner Brilliance Automotive, promises to rival cars like the Jaguar I-Pace (already on sale), the Audi e-tron (coming soon), and the Mercedes EQC SUV. The iX3 has a single electric motor and high voltage batteries that can be charged up quickly using a 150kW DC charger.