BMW has always been at the forefront of innovation and will continue to do so, yet their approach to new-age technology is also prudent. This is why the German manufacturer launched their "power of choice" strategy to give consumers the ability to choose from a range of different powertrain solutions. Yet while future models may benefit from a hydrogen cell approach as part of this strategy, BMW's electric car range today is more closely defined. If you're on the lookout for an electric beamer today, what are your options?
The i3 is the mainstay of the company's current i Range. Refreshed in 2018, the base model of BMW's only small electric car range now features a more refined look. Yet it retains the base elements that have made this vehicle such a success for the company.
A permanent magnet synchronous electric motor can produce 170 hp, a top speed of around 93 mph and can accelerate to 62 mph in 7.3 seconds. Officially, you're supposed to get 186 miles from a full charge, but this depends on your driving style in real-world conditions.
As the mainstay of the BMW electric car range, the Bavarians are keen to point out that range anxiety is all relative. After all, the average car journey is only 30 miles and, according to their marketing department, this car can get you from London to Brighton and back again on a single charge. i3 has a recommended retail price of just under £40,000.
If you're looking for something with a bit more performance, consider the i3S. This vehicle will give you an extra 14 hp and "dynamic traction control." You'll find lowered sports suspension, a wider track, larger wheels and cosmetic upgrades. It looks and feels more urgent than the base model, as well.
For some real excitement, however, you will want to look at the all-new iX3 Premier Edition. This option is a premium level, pure electric crossover and will come up against some heady opposition, led by the Tesla Model Y.
The iX3 Premier Edition will feature a plush interior with your choice of leather upholstery, digital gauges and a prominent touchscreen. If you're looking for more, upgrade to the Pro edition, which features a heads up display and leading-edge gesture control.
On the road, expect 282 horsepower with a maximum range of 285 miles. You will get to 112 mph quite rapidly with a 0 to 62 mph time of just 6.8 seconds. BMW is keen to trumpet its battery tech, with a lighter and far more energy-dense battery likely to help with handling and range.
This model will also feature the intriguing Iconic Sounds Electric concept, designed to produce artificial sounds to fill the silence. The company has worked with the famed composer Hans Zimmer to create different "sound worlds," matched to various parts of the car's operation. These worlds will not only entertain driver and passengers but may alert pedestrians to the presence of an otherwise silent car.
Looking forward, the range of BMW electric vehicles will expand when the i4 hits the road in 2021. This car has, perhaps, a more conventional look than the i3, and BMW will likely launch an M version as well. You should achieve 0 to 62 mph within four seconds, and the car should have a range of 373 miles. You'll find 523 hp under your right foot from an 80 kWh battery.
Then there's the "iNext," or iX5 as it will probably be known when it comes into production. This vehicle will be the flagship of the BMW electric car range and may cost north of £100,000. It'll feature 5G capability and sophisticated onboard tools, taking automated driving one step further. 500 hp is the target from the 100 kWh battery.
BMW's electric car range includes hybrid technology. There is a lot more choice here across their model range.
For example, the 333 saloon pairs an electric motor with a turbo, four-cylinder petrol engine. You'll get an all-electric range of 36 miles and a total range of 372.
In the 530e, you'll find an "anticipatory hybrid" mode, that will automatically choose a power source based on incoming, real-time traffic info.
There is a hybrid in the X range as well. Here, you'll find the xDrive 25e (for the X1 and X2), the 30e (for the X3) and the 45e (for the X5). The top of the range model delivers 54 miles of electric-only driving, 394 hp and can get you to 62 mph in 5.6 seconds.
The i8 was the original head-turner in the BMW electric car range, of course. This plug-in hybrid had an iconic design, with those unforgettable dihedral doors. Fitted with a turbocharged, three-cylinder engine and intelligent energy management, the i8 did have an on the road price of £115,000 but sadly ceased production in 2020.
BMW has several options when it comes to charging your hybrid or full electric.
They've partnered with over 7,000 charging stations to create the largest network in the UK.
If you want to top up at home, you can use iWallbox connectivity. This will give a plug-in hybrid 80% of its capacity in between three and five hours.
They'll also provide you with a special A/C fast charging cable, which you can use at public fast-charging facilities and get 80% capacity in no more than five hours.
When you sign up for 360° Electric, you can simplify your everyday needs by connecting to the company's proprietary digital charging service. This will help you to keep an eye on your usage costs and electricity tariffs. You can also take advantage of maintenance programs to keep the vehicle in the best shape.
Whether you choose BMW's small electric car in the i3, or cannot wait for the iNext to arrive on UK roads, you're sure to find something of interest from the German manufacturer. Expect more shortly as well, when they begin to roll out their "power of choice" strategy.