Handcrafted to perfection... The BMW iX promises the looks, performance and range to make an impact in the EV space. At 600 kilometres, it sure does have the range. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Dr. Hamid Haqparwar knows well the value of patience.

Even as the global automotive market fixates on how electric vehicle sales have taken over the present, Haqparwar’s attention is on what’s next - the ‘BMW iX’, to be absolutely precise about these sort of details. Because this will now be the focus of BMW Group’s full-on push into the world of electrified vehicles.

The iX represents the first series outcome of the luxury carmaker’s ‘Vision iNext’ concept announced in 2018, to fast-track its chances of being a top seller in the global electric car space.

In other words, not just hybrids, or one or two fully-electric models. Instead, it will be a full line-up to steer BMW Group closer to a time when electrified is all that matters in the automotive space. (And closer too to cutting down the early mover advantage one US car brand currently enjoys...)

And the results will start showing up in regional showrooms by late this year or early next. For Haqparwar, BMW Group’s Middle East Managing Director, the present is about preparing for these next-generation models.

“With a higher supply of electrified vehicles from us - and any other manufacturer - demand will also be increasing in these markets,” said Haqparwar. “By end 2021/beginning of 2022, that’s when we will have the new BMW i flagship models coming into the UAE - and it’s not all that far away."

Dr. Hamid Haqparwar, Managing Director for Middle East markets at BMW Group, dissects the likely shape of an EV-dominant automotive market. Irish Eden R. Belleza/Gulf News

What’s BMW’s ‘i’ all about?

The sub-brand represents the manufacturer’s electrified models, and builds on the i3 compact (Dh214,000 and over) and iX3 already in its line-up. And which gives it the best shot at building up scale - something it had done so successfully with the X5 and X6 models when internal combustion engines were all that mattered.

With the iX, BMW is also trying to bring in its design aesthetics into the interiors as much as on the aerodynamic details of the exterior. Plus, there’s the range, of course - at around 600 kilometres.

Electric matters

In 2020, when COVID-19 was wreaking havoc on demand for conventional cars, electric car sales worldwide actually rose 39 per cent to 3.1 million units. In comparison, global demand for passenger cars tanked by about 14 per cent. BMW Group’s plug-in and electric car sales totalled 190,000 plus units.

BMW will have 25 electrified options in showrooms by 2023 itself, more than half of which would be fully-electric. It’s in this perspective the ‘NEXTGen’ project should be seen, because once the next BMW i models arrive in the region, the line-up should be wide enough to tap into all possible buyer preferences.

Dr. Hamid Haqparwar, BMW Group
Dr. Hamid Haqparwar, BMW Group: "We are looking at specific offerings, be it through financing options or leasing to make it much more attractive for a prospective buyer Image Credit: Supplied

Pricing plays

At the top end of the UAE’s car market, electric vehicles have been making serious inroads, and which accelerated during 2020. Manufacturers’ priority is to widen that base to the widest possible limits. By year-end, BMW Group should have globally introduced the i4 and the iX.

Pricing can help speed up acceptance. “Pricing is a combination of many factors,” said Haqparwar. “Obviously, there’s the demand and supply situation, exchange rates and cost of production.

“Regardless of current situation, I would say our showroom prices are stable. And this is what a lot of people expect from the dealer and manufacturer.

“But we are looking at specific offerings, be it through financing options or leasing to make it much more attractive for a prospective buyer. And leasing is a good way for potential buyers to start looking at our model range.”

Nitty-gritty on the iX
This is the first model based on a "new, modular, scalable future toolkit" developed by the BMW Group.

A new charging technology enables DC fast charging at up to 200 kW. This way, the battery can be charged from 10% to 80 of its full capacity in under 40 minutes. And within 10 minutes, "enough energy can be fed into the battery to increase the car’s range by more than 120 kilometres".

It will feature the fifth iteration of the manufacturer's 'eDrive' technology, featuring two electric motors, the power electronics, charging technology and high-voltage battery. The model can generate a maximum output of more than 370 kW/500 hp.

That should power the iX from 0 to 100 km/h in under 5 seconds.

Widen leasing

BMW and its UAE dealerships have been running a car finance and leasing programme in recent years. The time could be just right, according to Haqparwar, to take the scheme Gulf-wide. “The demand for financing and leasing actually surged in the UAE, and we had both corporate and private clients taking it up,” he added.

“We started first trial in the UAE before thinking regionally. The markets need to be ready… and so do customers. There is a lot of interest from their side – in Saudi Arabia, we offer BMW Select, which is a leasing programme where customers can return the car after three years.

"So, it’s not only about buying a car any longer...”