SMC ASIA CAR Distributors Corp. has formally ushered in the electric age of BMW Philippines. Last Thursday, the official importer and distributor of the Munich-headquartered automobile brand formally unveiled the BMW iX. Touted as the BMW Group’s “technology flagship,” the iX is an all-electric SAV (or Sports Activity Vehicle, the brand’s parlance for SUV) which is now available on indent order — bearing an initial tag of P6.29 million.
That price also includes a wall box charger to be installed by BMW’s so-called “i-partners” in the buyer’s home. BMW is also quick to note that the iX bears a five-year BMW factory warranty, eight years for the high-voltage battery, and a six-year BMW Service Inclusive warranty.
In exclusive interview with this writer, BMW Philippines President Spencer Yu said, “The (iX) range is 370 kilometers — easily more than what a person will drive in a day… For longer out-of-town trips, that is something we still have to work on — especially with public charging. Hopefully, with the passage of the EV (electric vehicle) Law, things will start to pick up and we should see more charging stations. That is the single biggest thing that we can do to help curb range anxiety, which is what a lot of EV buyers are worried about.”
For those looking for a more, well, traditional Bimmer, BMW Philippines also rolled out the all-new BMW 220i Coupe M Sport, which retails for P3.69 million. The vehicle is powered by a BMW TwinPower Turbo 2.0L inline four-cylinder petrol engine with peak torque of 300Nm and a maximum output of 184hp. The mill is mated to an eight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic transmission, helping to realize a standstill-to-100kph time of 7.5 seconds.
Back to the iX, even as it is bereft of an internal combustion engine, BMW maintains it is “perfectly geared to blending superb ride comfort with sporty handling characteristics.” It boasts an aluminum spaceframe construction and a carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) in the roof and at the sides and rear — simultaneously resulting in increased rigidity and minimized weight. A drag coefficient of 0.25 also helps to positively impact range.
To help with the vehicle’s center of gravity, the high-voltage battery of the iX is positioned low on the underbody. Weight has been evenly distributed for more nimble handling — a quality further enabled by a double-wishbone front axle, five-link rear axle, lift-related dampers and an electric steering system with Servotronic function and a variable ratio.
An all-wheel-drive system in the BMW iX “transmits exactly the right amount of drive torque to the front and rear wheels in all driving situations.” It can range from a pure rear-wheel-driven mode to an all-wheeler. The brand’s fifth-generation eDrive technology iX is “centered around a drive unit which brings together the electric motor, power electronics, and transmission within a single housing,” to result in both power density and efficiency — not to mention the economical use of installation space in the area between the front and rear axle.
Both motors in the BMW iX deliver maximum torque “on tap immediately on pulling away” and keeps it across a broad rev band. Speaking of which, the system generates up to 326hp and 630Nm. BMW is future-proofing the iX through a new generation of sensors, software stack, and powerful computing platform. It bears five cameras, five radar sensors, and 12 ultrasonic sensors.
A safety kit includes “the most extensive set of standard driver assistance systems ever seen on a BMW along with a wealth of innovations,” according to BMW. The iX gets a front collision warning system which also detects oncoming traffic when turning left (in countries where vehicles drive on the right) as well as cyclists and pedestrians when turning right. Its cruise control with braking function offers “situational distance adjustment.” An exit warning function, on the other hand, alerts to the presence of cyclists or pedestrians in surrounding areas before the doors are opened. A Remote Theft Recorder is also a new feature, along with a parking assistant with reversing assist camera and the reversing assistant.
On the outside, immediately noticeable is the signature BMW kidney grille, whose surface is almost completely closed off. The grille collects and incorporates a camera and radar sensors. Flanking the grille are LED headlights with a high beam assistant and 21-inch aerodynamic wheels.
Soft-closing doors open to welcome passengers into a olive-tanned, natural leather-lined interior. It comes with an Ambient Light Package and automatic four-zone air-conditioning — the latter featuring a nanofiber filter to purify the cabin air. A Harman Kardon surround sound system is integrated in the head restraints, and a 4D Audio function using “bass shakers” in the front seats delivers a unique experience.
The latest iDrive display and operating system debuts in the BMW iX, expanding “the interaction between driver and vehicle.” Based on the BMW Live Cockpit Professional running on the new BMW Operating System 8, it makes possible the touchscreen operation of the BMW Curved Display and on verbal communication with the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant, which has also undergone an upgrade.
The BMW Curved Display “is a fully digital display grouping formed by a 12.3-inch information display and a control display with a diagonal screen measurement of 14.9 inches housed together behind a glass surface that is angled toward the driver.” It features Smartphone Integration, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and standard storage for wireless charging.
“We’re very grateful for the passing of the EV law just recently. And that will pave the way for better infrastructure, because the private sector has to work with the government on electric vehicle infrastructure,” said Mr. Yu to this writer.
Because of a prevailing industry-wide shortage of semiconductors and, now, even wire harnesses (a result of the conflict in Ukraine), the production of vehicles has been hobbled. In a Reuters report, BMW had reported, “Due to supply bottlenecks, interruptions to our production will occur… We are in intensive discussions with our suppliers.”
For now, while BMW Philippines cannot promise the immediate availability of the iX, the company is taking orders — specifically through RSA Motors dealerships in Greenhills and Libis.
One thing’s for sure, Mr. Yu thinks that Filipinos are already primed to go electric, and national policies and legislation will surely give added enticements for those still on the fence.
“Prior to the introduction of the iX, I had been very surprised with the reception and anticipation for the car — judging by the number of people who want to go into BEVs. We think it will be here to stay, and this is the future, and this will be taking us to the next step — 20, 30 years and beyond,” he concluded. — Kap Maceda Aguila