To mark BMW’s centenary year, the Bavarian brand unveiled the Vision Next 100, an out-of-this-world concept. But what BMW also revealed was the development of the next ‘i’ car. And it has been named iNEXT – for now.
The BMW i3 and BMW i8, both available from Lancaster BMW Milton Keynes, revolutionised the automotive ideology of electric mobility when they were launched, and BMW wants to maintain this ground-breaking reputation. That’s why the brand has launched a new i Division campaign called Project i 2.0, which will precede the iNEXT.
‘Our focus is clear: we are securing the BMW Group’s position as technological market leader,’ said Klaus Fröhlich, member of the Board of Management responsible for Development. ‘With project i 2.0 we will lead the field of autonomous driving. We will turn research projects into new kinds of industrial processes, bringing future technology onto the road.’
Project i 2.0 will bring BMW’s technological advancements together to form a fully networked, advanced driving experience, focusing on high definition digital maps, sensor technology, cloud technology and artificial intelligence.
This clear focus on technology, alternative fuel and connectivity makes the BMW i Division a core part of its business. Pioneering technology and manufacturing techniques generated in i development are filtered down to other vehicles in the BMW model range. Weight-saving measures - such as the use of carbon fibre and aluminium - have helped the newly debuted flagship 7 Series shed 200kg, and it’s fitted with some impressive autonomous driving features; and the 225e Active Tourer uses the i8’s powertrain, detuned and running in reverse – soon, the BMW X1 will too.
The iNEXT will carry the next steps in autonomous driving, features that will then be utilised in other BMW models. And its design will take inspiration from the futuristic BMW Vision Next 100.
Ian Robertson, BMW’s sales and marketing chief, said, ‘The iNEXT will be our new spearhead for innovation and technology. Planned for 2021, it will offer autonomous driving, digital connectivity, intelligent lightweight design, a totally new interior. And ultimately it will bring the next generation of electro-mobility to the road.’
Speaking on power for the iNEXT, Robertson said: ‘It will definitely be an EV. It will have the next big thing in batteries. Battery technology is definitely on the verge of the next big thing. We just increased the range of the i3 by modifying the lithium ion cells in the same battery structure. Next there will be lithium air batteries. You’ll be able to get 400 mile range easily, and the recharge time is a cup of coffee. And then solid state batteries are on everyone’s lips. They have package, energy density and safety benefits.’
In five years’ time, this pioneering new model may be called the i5 or i6. Saloon or SUV is yet to be disclosed, but whatever its style, it’s sure to look phenomenal – and it will feature more carbon fibre and new lightweight materials, more technology and more automation than any other i Division vehicle. And the best part – the iNEXT may even use the ‘Companion’, an on-board artificial intelligence virtual assistant.
At Lancaster BMW Milton Keynes, we can’t wait. Get a taste of the iNEXT by test driving a battery-powered BMW and when you’re behind the wheel of one, five years will go even faster.