iX3 is BMW’s first electric SUV, but it won’t be coming to the U.S. thanks to the feds

Chris Teague

Chris Teague

BMW's new SUV is fuel-efficient, but that's not a good enough reason to bring it to the U.S.

BMW has debuted its first all-electric SUV, touting its emissions-free powertrain, “sporting ability”, and comfortable interior. But, the model won’t be arriving on U.S. shores anytime soon. Instead, the model will be for consumption in Europe and China. Why? It comes down to government.

BMW calls it their “Power of Choice” approach. Others may call it the “throw noodles against the wall” approach to an ever-evolving powertrain scene. This is the same business model that is causing BMW to make a hydrogen-powered X5 available for sale in Europe.

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The BMW iX3 is a compact SUV.

Photo by Fabian Kirchbauer Photography, courtesy of BMW

In Europe and China, emissions regulations have been tightened as governments respond to the pressure of the perceived threat of climate change at an increasing rate. Much of the concentration in these regulations deals with tailpipe emissions, which is a cause of air pollution, but doesn’t focus energy on the way power is supplied to the powertrain, whether from coal-fired power station or a battery that is made from materials that destroy large swaths of the earth.

In a release about the iX3, BMW shared that, “BMW Group monitors compliance with environmental and social standards as part of its procurement process for the lithium and cobalt used in battery cells.”

It is because of these emissions regulations that more automakers have begun investing in electrified powertrains, whether plug-in hybrid (PHEV), battery electric (BEV/EV), or hydrogen fuel cell (FCEV). For some, like Hyundai with hydrogen, the investment in the technology is decades old. Others, like Volkswagen Group, have built their entire future on it. Many automaker executives acknowledge that battery electric vehicles are only a stepping stone until hydrogen takes over as the fuel of choice. Still, FCEVs have batteries.

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The car is proportionally the same as the traditional X3.

Photo by Fabian Kirchbauer Photography, courtesy of BMW

In the U.S., emissions regulations are not as strict, despite moves by California in a self-perceived effort to lead the way, with many states not yet clamping down on emissions regulations.

It is for that reason in addition to low demand and because more often than not the profit margins on PHEVs and EVs are slim (add in the cost of shipping, dealer training, and equipment for repairs and the MSRP would have to skyrocket to make up for the extra expense), that BMW will not be selling the iX3 in America – at least not right now.

The 2021 BMW iX3 will be powered by BMW’s fifth-generation eDrive technology. It has an 80 kilowatt-hour battery that will allow for a 285-mile range (WLTP). The model’s eDrive electric motor sends power to the rear wheels and produces 286 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. The SUV can move from zero to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds and has an electronically limited top speed of 112 mph.

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Blue accents denote the model’s EV standing.Photo courtesy of BMW

Drivers are able to choose the level of regeneration the model utilizes. It can be enough to allow for near one-pedal driving or minimally invasive.

To support the company’s EV offerings, the BMW Connected Charging app delivers enhanced navigation with built-in charging options. Recharging from zero to 80 percent of the battery’s capability happens in just 34 minutes. A 10-minute charge adds 62 miles of range.

The model’s body design and interior proportions remain much the same in the iX3 as it does throughout the X3 lineup. Buyers can customize their iX3 ownership experience by ticking the box of one or more of the many options BMW offers including metallic paint, automatic lift gate, a panoramic sunroof, and sport seats.

There are blue accents on the exterior and interior of the model denoting its electric vehicle status within the BMW lineup.

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The SUV seats five.Photo courtesy of BMW

BMW estimates that the iX3 will have 30 percent less of an environmental impact over its lifespan than the diesel-powered version of the X3. When it is charged exclusively using green energy, that number jumps to 60 percent.

The 2021 BMW iX3 will be the first model to be produced for explore at BMW’s Shenyang manufacturing facility in China. It is expected to be on sale later this year.

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