BMW has begun production of the BMW iX3, its second fully electric vehicle, coming several years after the BMW i3 went into production in 2013. Interestingly, production of the first vehicles is in China, and there’s a reason or two for that.
While the US is in the midst of some kind of nonsensical cultural civil war, stimulated by a certain portion of society 1) wanting to rewind the clock 50+ years (i.e., go backward) and/or 2) so unhappy with how their dreams ended up that they just want to see other people suffering or getting “pwned.” In practice, that means the United States has cut cleantech policies and programs meant to stimulate millions of jobs while accelerating the transition to zero-emissions technology. Donald Trump’s administration has also removed numerous regulations meant to protect Americans from harmful, deadly, carcinogenic pollution from burning fossil fuels and other industrial processes — pulling the country backward again in completely counterproductive ways. If you cut regulations for the $2,000 benefit of a corporation, resulting in a $100,000 cost to an American who gets cancer (or even dies prematurely), you are not making progress as a society — you are just letting a few richer people get richer while everyone else suffers more.
On the specific topic of vehicles, the USA’s electric vehicle growth has largely been thanks to California regulations that stimulated many electric car purchases and a $7500 federal EV tax credit, along with the technology maturing to a more competitive level of course. Instead of expanding on those policies and encouraging a quicker transition to electric vehicles, the Donald Trump administration has been fighting California and trying to take away its and a dozen other states’ rights to implement stronger clean air and fuel economy standards than the US government as a whole. It has also cut US government fuel economy standards set under the Obama/Biden administration when that government bailed out the US auto industry. In other words, we have been going backwards for the past few years … again.
Led by California, the US was once the world leader in the transition to electric vehicles. We are not even close to that now. China got much more aggressive about this transition, actually learning from California’s policies, tweaking them, and setting stronger goals and requirements. The result is that electric vehicle market share jumped considerably, multiples higher than the USA’s, and automakers got the clear signal that if they wanted to succeed and sell a lot of cars in China, they needed to produce and sell more electric vehicles there. Hence, for BMW’s global rollout of the fresh new BMW iX3, we have pictures from a factory in China, where the cleantech economy is booming, not being hampered and suffocated by a fossil-addicted, out-of-touch government that thinks we can just timewarp back to the 1950s (as if we’d even want to do that).
Europe is now far and away the electric vehicle leader due to its own strong policies and EV market share rising to ~10% there (instead of 1% or 2% in the USA), and the iX3 will be headed there before it ever touches ground in the United States. In other words, China and Europe are sprinting ahead, while the United States is falling behind — or, actually, running backwards idiotically.
Yes, we have Tesla — and thank goodness for that! Yes, it would be great if every automaker had a strong plan to switch 100% to electric vehicles in the next few years, pulling their traditional, committed, loyal customers with them. Unfortunately, that is not the case, and you have laggards like BMW that roll out electric vehicles basically just as policies and the market require it.
Returning to the BMW news, the BMW Brilliance Automotive joint venture rolled the first 100% electric BMW iX3 off its production line in Shenyang, China, on September 29. “BBA produces the fully-electric BMW iX3 on the same line as the BMW X3 with combustion engine to ensure a high level of efficiency and flexibility in production,” the company states.
One day, we will get the BMW iX3 in the US and Europe and will look to do a full review of the vehicle and how it compares to competitors like the Tesla Model Y, Ford Mustang Mach-E, and gasoline-powered BMW X3 itself. In the meantime, this is a Chinese electric vehicle helping a bit more to clean the air in China while developing battery and EV progress in that portion of the world.
Indeed, a couple of weeks before the iX3 news, BMW Group announced that the BMW Brilliance Automotive joint venture had “expanded its battery factory at the Tiexi location, the so-called ‘High-Voltage Battery Centre’, with a further battery centre that will immediately begin producing the new and more powerful batteries of the fifth-generation BMW eDrive technology used in the fully-electric BMW iX3.”
Strong policies stimulate a shift to new, cleaner technology. That new technology means new jobs.
“China is of high importance to the BMW Group, both as a market and as a location for production and innovation,” Milan Nedeljković, the member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for production, said. “Our investments underline our strong commitment to China and Shenyang over the long term. And the investments are ongoing: The Tiexi and Dadong plant extension projects are well on track. And we are preparing for future growth: With this new Battery Center, we more than double the capacity of our local battery production in China.”
If you are an American like me, imagine reading that statement with the USA inserted in place of China, with North Carolina or Georgia or Colorado inserted in place of Shenyang.
“The expansion of our High-Voltage Battery Centre is concrete proof of our commitment to continue investing in Shenyang, Liaoning and north-eastern China,” BBA President Dr. Johann Wieland added. “It also shows our determination to take a leading role in sustainable mobility, as we launch our pure electric BMW iX3.”
Some leaders are pulling their people and their nations, states, and cities forward. Some “leaders” are pulling their people, their nations, and their cities backwards. It sure would be nice to be in the former case again.