On why BMW doesn’t plan another EV on the iX platform

The BMW iX (internal codename: BMW i20), the first dedicated pure electric SUV from BMW, utilizes a brand-new aluminum spaceframe architecture. Last year, a report from bmwblog.com said that BMW Group doesn’t plan to build a second BMW electric car on this base. Now, Oliver Zipse, Chairman – BoM, BMW Group, has explained this subject.

During the Q&A session after the BMW Group Analyst and Investor Day 2021, Zipse talked about BMW’s way of doing things, one of which was component-sharing between models. Zipse began his explanation with a general overview of the platform strategy at BMW Group. He said:

BMW has never thought in platforms, never, and that is for a good reason – we think in tech modules. One example’s if we look at an operating system, but that could be any other component as well, could be a battery cell. This tech component you will see in all our cars. If you look at an operating system, you will see that in a MINI, a BMW, and a Rolls-Royce. The customer, of course, doesn’t see that. And that is (the) way we scale our efficiencies. And the platform, like (when) you traditionally think of a platform, there’s a plant with a lot of robots and then specific components come to the line and that is one platform, and there’s a different platform for other segments. This is not how BMW works.

Oliver Zipse, Chairman of Board of Management, BMW Group (BMW Group Analyst and Investor Day 2021)

Further, Zipse talked about what all from the iX could be used by other BMWs. He said:

How does that filtrate into our products? Look at the iX which we showed. That is not a platform, that’s a tech stack. And you will see the operating system, you will see the battery cells, you will see the steering wheel mechanism, you will see the control units for axles in other cars as well. They might be adapted if it’s a higher-market segment or with different weights of the car, but the principle is always the same – there is a car, and the iX is not a platform at all. It’s a singular car with a dedicated vehicle body, but all the components – and that is where the real costs lie – will be scaled substantially beyond that car. And that is the trick how we do that, that’s by the way (why) we need such a long time to start that offensive. And you will see that competence now in the i4, you will see that in the 7 Series.

Oliver Zipse, Chairman of Board of Management, BMW Group (BMW Group Analyst and Investor Day 2021)

Like in the i3, the BMW product developers used carbon-fiber in the structure of the BMW iX to keep its weight low. The side frame, rain channels, roof frame and rear window consist of this expensive lightweight material and together form what the company calls a ‘Carbon Cage’. Basically, there’s a lot of high-tech stuff in the chassis of the BMW iX that, though technically possible to get carried over, could be unfeasible in other product segments due to high costs.

What comes after the BMW iX?

BMW Group has confirmed that it will have at least 13 EVs in its line-up across brands by 2023 and that the future EV launches will include a BMW 3 Series (BMW i3), BMW iX1 (BMW X1 electric), a BMW i5 (BMW 5 Series electric), and a BMW i7 (BMW 7 Series electric) and a number of MINI electric cars, including the Mini Countryman EV. The company plans to start manufacturing the BMW iX, in Dingolfing (Germany), from the second half of 2021. BMW iX deliveries in the U.S. are scheduled to begin in early 2022.

BMW electric car launch dates upcoming BMW electric vehicles
The iX is part of the 13 BMW electric car launches to conclude by the end of 2023. The image is from a corporate presentation slide put out in November 2020. Image: BMW Investor Presentation, Nov 2020.

From 2025, BMW Group plans to transform its BMW brand model line-up with ‘Die Neue Klasse,’ a combination of IT and software architecture; electric drivetrain and battery; and sustainability. The company plans to showcase the first model with a concept car at IAA 2021. Rival German conglomerate Daimler is similarly working on a new EV-focused architecture on which it can build ICE models as well. Called MMA (Mercedes-Benz Modular Architecture), this architecture that is integrated backward starting with EVs will also be ready for commercialization in 2025.

It’s time in about next 5 years to make a next big step. That’s (Die Neue Klasse is) not only a platform. We rather think in tech architectures, and that has proven extremely efficient for ourselves. And that is why it’s also important that all plants can do these tech stacks as we call them. You will see (in) the i4 and in the iX. You might think they are not on a dedicated platform, (but) they will be superior in their performance. And we do not think in this very black and white platform thinking because we see a true competitive advantage on the cost side, to do it rather in a module-related kind of way.

Oliver Zipse, Chairman of Board of Management, BMW Group (BMW Group Analyst and Investor Day 2021)

Featured image: BMW Group