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From X1 to X5: BMW to have more electric cars than PHEVs by 2023 in massive EV push - plus why more models set for Australia are likely to be built in China

Why you'll see a lot more electric BMWs soon, and why your next one might be built in China.

BMW has opened up about its electric past and future at the launch of the all-electric iX flagship SUV, saying it plans to have more fully electric cars in its line-up than plug-in hybrids by 2023.

Speaking to media, the iX's program director, Johann Kistler, explained that the brand’s “fifth generation” electric drive technology - which underpins the iX and all-electric i4 sedan - will be aggressively rolled out across the brand’s entire range in the next few years.

Not only does this mean every current BMW model will have an electric version before long, but the brand said it will reveal an electrified version of the X1 small SUV in 2022, and an electrified version of the X5 SUV will shortly follow.

By 2023, the brand says it will have launched 13 fully electric models, meaning it will have more EVs than its current line-up of plug-in hybrids (PHEVs).

For those concerned about range, BMW says this has been a priority, explaining its cars will be void of range anxiety. Its i4 and iX have well in excess of 500km range each, amongst the highest of all electric cars.

In previous comments to media, Mr Kistler explained this is why the brand has chosen to shun 800-volt architecture as seen in the Hyundai Ioniq 5, as the brand would rather a more balanced approach to bringing more range rather than higher voltage to customers.

BMW's new range of i-branded vehicles have relatively large batteries with long range capabilities. BMW's new range of i-branded vehicles have relatively large batteries with long range capabilities.

When asked why BMW had such a large production gap between the i8 and i3 and its new range of 'i' branded electric cars, BMW said the pause since 2013 is a natural part of its model cycle, and had allowed it to get the technology right.

It said the i3 was not set to continue as “it doesn’t make sense to put generation five technology in the i3”.

Mr Kistler elaborated, explaining: “The i3 was a great success for us, allowing us to learn about how customers use electric drive.”

The brand representatives explained that the i3 was a proof of concept of how its owners would use the technology, and the longevity of its battery and internal components.

When asked whether BMW would be shifting more production to China for the Asia Pacific region, Mr Kistler explained that while the iX will initially be built in one of the brand’s ancestral facilities in Dingolfing, Germany, there is no reason why future models won’t be built in China, like the all-electric iX3 SUV will be for our market, as the brand pursues supply chain efficiency.

It is likely more BMW models will be built in China as the brand strategically re-tools its facilities for the electric era. It is likely more BMW models will be built in China as the brand strategically re-tools its facilities for the electric era.

“We have a flexible approach,” he explained. “All our plants will be prepared for producing each car, both with combustion and electric power.”

BMW has explained in the past that it will need to construct vehicles close to where its partners construct battery components to help build on its sustainability promise. It sources batteries for the iX and i4 from both Korean giant Samsung, and the rapidly rising Chinese supplier CATL.

BMW says it sees the Polestar 2 as a prime competitor for the i4, and Tesla’s Model X as a likely competitor for the iX.