After Extreme Winter Testing, The BMW iX Is Headed For Winter Fun

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After extreme winter testing in September–November, BMW is taking the iX battery-electric SUV on a winter sports tour, both the promote the car and prove it has what it takes in the cold.

Over the last few months, BMW took the vehicles to the coldest parts of Europe for testing. Testing locations were beyond the Arctic Circle, including the Finnish Lapland and the North Cape on the Norwegian island of Magerøya. The conditions were more brutal than what most BMW iX SUVs will ever encounter once sold to customers, and prove to be a real ordeal for them.

It’s one thing to predict how the components will cope with that kind of cold in a computer or in a freezer, but it’s another thing entirely to test the vehicles in some of the world’s harshest real conditions.

Every system on the vehicle was challenged. Battery pack chemistries don’t work the same in the cold. Tires and suspension struggle to keep the vehicle on the road, while stability systems might need further software optimization. Even the vehicle’s dashboard and infotainment screens could fail when frozen. A lot can go wrong later, and BMW doesn’t want to take any chances.

Like a crashed SpaceX Starship, engineers learn more and adjust accordingly whenever a system fails in the cold. Suspension may need more tuning, software may need changed, and any parts that failed might need reworked before final production to make sure the cars don’t fail in places like northern Europe, Canada, Siberia, and Alaska (assuming there’s good infrastructure in those places in the coming years).

With all of that torture testing out of the way, BMW is now taking a victory lap of sorts. For the rest of the winter, BMW will be taking its final-state development vehicles to sporting events around Europe, both to show them off and learn more under more normal European winter temperatures.

The list of events is long:

“As part of BMW’s involvement in winter sports, the BMW iX is going on a huge tour of Europe in the 2020/21 season. The BMW IBU World Cup Biathlon will be heading to Kontiolahti, Hochfilzen, Oberhof and Antholz. The highlight of the season is the world championships in Pokljuka, Slovenia in February, followed by the season finale in Nove Mesto and Oslo. The locations for the BMW IBSF World Cup Bob & Skeleton and the FIL Luge World Cup include Sigulda, Innsbruck, Winterberg, St. Moritz and Königssee near Berchtesgaden. The Eisarena Königssee will also host the FIL Luge World Championships at the end of January. The BMW IBSF Bob and Skeleton World Championships will be held in Altenberg in the Erz Mountains in February.”

At the events, BMW will be advertising the vehicles with a “Born Electric” slogan, because the platform was built from the ground up to be a battery-electric EV. The campaign around Europe is part of a longstanding partnership with the various sports teams at similar events, but now with an electric twist.

When released in late 2021, the vehicle is supposed to be available with all-wheel drive and up to 500 horsepower. The 113 kWh battery pack is predicted to give drivers up to 300 miles of range, and DC fast charging will provide over 75 miles of range in 10 minutes of charging (tapering will keep longer charge sessions from adding that much in the following 10-20 minutes, of course).

Partnerships with Amazon for home charging and EVgo for fast charging will make things a little easier for new owners. Home charging with a BMW level 2 setup is supposed to happen in 11 hours, so not much longer than it takes to watch some TV, get some sleep, and get ready for work again.

While the front is designed to look like a normal BMW, the large “nostrils” appear to be purely decorative. The clean airflow and lightweight construction are supposed to give the vehicle more range than most electric vehicles of similar size.

With all of this in mind, BMW’s not calling it a crossover or SUV, instead inventing a new marketing term: SAV, or Sports Activity Vehicle. What this means, exactly, is still to be told.

While BMW was an early pioneer in the EV space with the i3 and its other worldly looks, this campaign probably shows that the brand is taking EVs more mainstream. With a normal looking vehicle that existing BMW loyalists will be attracted to, they’re done building space ships.

Images courtesy BMW

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Jennifer Sensiba

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.

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