Production version of the semi-autonomous concept will be the first to use BMW's versatile new architecture
5 February 2019

The BMW iNext, an electric SUV with advanced autonomous systems, has begun testing in prototype form in Sweden ahead of an expected sales launch in 2021.

The model, which was revealed in concept form last year and shown in public for the first time at the Los Angeles motor show, sits on a radical new platform and will provide the “building blocks” for the BMW Group’s future. 

While the iNext is a similar size to the X5, BMW has said that it represents ‘Project i 2.0’, sitting outside of its planned range of electric 'i' SUVs as a new ‘technology flagship’ for the brand.

The test car is running at BMW’s winter testing facility in Arjeplog, Sweden, and features a number of notable differences from the concept. The backwards-opening rear doors have been replaced by a conventional pair and larger B-pillars have been added. While disguised, the grille on the test car is a more standard item than the concept's bold translucent panel that is used to house many of the autonomous systems.

The iNext will be built at BMW's Dingolfing plant in Germany from 2021. It will be the first car from the firm to use a new platform that will be able to spawn conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, plug-in hybrids and electric cars using the same basic architecture and on the same production line. This will underpin future BMW models from the 3 Series upwards and allow a rear-engine configuration in some. 

BMW will build all of its future models on one of two platforms – one for front-wheel drive cars and one for those with rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.

On the latter platform, electric cars will have a rear-mounted drivetrain as standard. Plug-in hybrids will have a rear-mounted electric motor and a transversely-mounted engine driving the front wheels. Electric models will retain the classic BMW rear-wheel-drive layout.

Our Verdict

BMW X5 2018 road test review - hero front

In its 20th birthday year, is BMW’s original SUV back to its very best?

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

Other options will include twin-motored, four-wheel-drive electric cars and conventional mechanical four-wheel-drive ICE models. 

BMW sources say the maximum range of the electric models could be up to 450 miles in future X-series models (which are likely to have a bigger battery capacity), while the plug-in hybrids will manage a range of around 60 miles.

The new architecture will also incorporate a new autonomous technology platform that will eventually offer Level 5 autonomy – wherein the car does not require a driver. BMW showed all three prototype autonomy ‘PAD’ processing units in LA, the smallest of which will first appear in 2021 on the production iNext to offer Level 3 autonomy (hands-off and eyes-off) at up to 80mph on motorways.

The Level 4 and Level 5 autonomous systems will enter testing in 2021 on a fleet of pilot cars. Level 4 aims for ‘hands-off and mind-off’ autonomy in urban situations, while Level 5 will offer driverless urban travel at up to 43.5mph.

The controversial styling of the iNext concept reflects the production vehicle in only a ‘broad-brush’ way, according to BMW insiders. Expect the sheer surfaces, especially around the sides and rear, to be translated, along with the large windows and an interior that has much of the switchgear blended in as touch-sensitive surfaces that appear upon demand.

Read more

BMW Vision iNext concept previews advanced autonomous SUV

Insight: how BMW platforms can cope with multiple powertrains

BMW development boss: our cars will always have steering wheels

Join the debate

Comments
11

29 November 2018
It looks like a fat vagina.

29 November 2018

  It may not be a looker but Cars in the not to distant future won’t necessarily need to look good on the outside because all interest will be in connectivity, being able to interact with others while sitting in a Car that’ll take you where you want, get you there in the quickest safest time and you as passengers ( won’t need a Driver) will arrive stress free caught up with work on the way in or watched Tv or even have an extra forty winks too!, the futures bright?...right?

Peter Cavellini.

29 November 2018

I think you want porn hub...

Daz

29 November 2018

BMW need a new Head of Design ASAP. I'm sure that the tech will be top drawer and they are really trying with this grille thing but it is utterly hideous. Staggeringly ugly everywhere they use it.

29 November 2018
I agree it is rather ugly. I will refrain from comparing it to anything overtly anatomical.

29 November 2018

If BMW has found a way to preserve structural integrity by using slim A-pillar and do without any B-pillar, then this car is truly revolutionary. If not, then it's a worthless concept car, a big lie even.

29 November 2018

Agreed, like Humberview says it is a pretty big opening.

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

29 November 2018

The new chassis is one that does not exist. You would have to explain what is bold about it. 

When one looks a the photos the car looks like a BMW i3 blown up.

 Is this supposed to be the Phaeton " successor "?

5 February 2019

i-NEXT? Who came up with that name?!

6 February 2019

 When you see that the last post but one was over a year ago, you wonder if there’s that much interest in EV Transport?

Peter Cavellini.

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week