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Speaking to media at the reveal of the BMW iX, BMW board member Frank Weber outlined the brand’s “stage three” electrification plans including an all-new electric vehicle architecture.
Mr Weber said the freshly revealed iX flagship and iX3 mid-size SUVs were part of the brand’s “stage two” electrification model, with soon-to-arrive electrified versions of the X1 small SUV, 5 Series sedan, and 7 Series saloon included in the stage two rollout. He noted that the stage two rollout also includes all brands under the BMW banner, including Rolls-Royce and Mini.
He said the brand’s “stage three” will be a major shift. Kicking off around “the middle of the decade”, BMW will introduce an all-new electric-first architecture. It will be a platform developed from the ground-up to be primarily electric, forgoing the brand’s current mainline platforms which are built around combustion technology and then modified for plug-in hybrid or full electric use.
Mr Weber’s comments comes as BMW announces it will shift its combustion assembly lines away from its German homeland, investing 400 million Euros to re-tool its German plants for next-generation electric vehicle assembly.
The brand’s larger V8 and V12 engines will be assembled in the UK, while its small modular engine family, consisting of three, four, and signature six-cylinder units, will be built by Steyr in Austria (where the brand currently builds the Z4).
By the end of 2022 all the existing German plants will build at least one electric vehicle, with the i4 slated to be built in Munich, the electric 5 Series and 7 Series to be built in Dingolfing (alongside the iX), and the electric X1 to be built in Regensburg.
The iX3 will be built in China at the BMW Brilliance Automotive joint-venture facility in Shenyang, although Mr Weber wouldn’t rule out production for the electric mid-sizer also occurring in America if demand requires it. “Our quality standards are the same around the world,” he clarified.
“There will be no quality difference between a China-built iX3 and an X3 that rolls of the line in Spartanburg (USA).”
The next electric BMW for Australia will be the X5-sized iX which is said to be on track for a launch in the second half of 2021. It will be followed by either the iX3 mid-sizer or the i4 sedan shortly thereafter. The brand plans to sell seven million electrified vehicles worldwide by 2030.