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BMW iX3 electric SUV charging BMW doubles down on “power of choice” plan to provide petrol, diesel, electric options on every model

German manufacturer BMW has reaffirmed its commitment to offering buyers a choice of combustion or electrified powertrains across every model line in future as part of a philosophy labelled ‘power of choice’ by the Bavarian automotive powerhouse.

Rejecting the notion that combustion engines will cease being available for sale in a decade’s time, as some bullish European governments have hypothesised, BMW electromobility spokesman and expert Wieland Bruch told Chasing Cars that “the internal combustion engine, for many years to come, will still contribute a substantial share of overall sales” for the luxury brand.

Wieland Bruch
Wieland Bruch, BMW’s global electromobility spokesperson.

That being said, BMW has also reiterated its suggestion that by next year, the brand expects one quarter of its global sales to be electrified – meaning either full battery-electric (BEV) with no combustion support, or a plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) combination powertrains, which couple an urban-range battery and electric motor to a traditional engine for long-range flexibility.

The strategy, which sees BMW hedge its bets on future vehicular energy sources more conservatively than other mainstream premium brands like Volvo, who have committed to their current generation of combustion engines being the company’s last before full electrification.

BMW’s approach is, naturally, also a counterpoint to the advent of electric-only marques, most prominently Tesla – and is a bet founded on the notion that while battery technology is becoming more sophisticated and cheaper, private buyers will continue to preference the combustion engine over the next ten years at least.

Reaffirming ‘power of choice’ comes as BMW prepares to launch their first fully-electric SUV into the market. Encapsulating what this strategy is all about, the new iX3 is a BEV variant of the brand’s highest-selling model, the X3 midsize SUV. The arrival of the electric iX3 will mean the crossover will be available in petrol, diesel, plug-in hybrid electric and fully-electric forms.

BMW iX3 electric SUV next to dam
BMW’s top-selling X3 is the first model line to fill out a ‘power of choice’ offer, with the impending arrival of the iX3 BEV

Bruch said the X3 midsizer, which competes with the Audi Q5 and Mercedes-Benz GLC, was chosen as the first vehicle to implement ‘power of choice’ due to its status as the brand’s most popular vehicle.

“The BMW X3 is our best-selling SUV all around the world, so there is a massive volume, and therefore also a massive possible contribution in terms of lowering CO2 emissions, and the X3 was [also] suitable in its lifecycle to introduce the Generation 5 EV drivetrain,” he said. That powertrain refers to the iX3’s 210kW/400Nm motor, paired to a 74kWh usable battery providing this rear-drive SUV with 459km of range on the WLTP testing cycle.

Mr Bruch says that the approach taken with the X3 lineup will be mirrored across the brand’s other model lines in future – we should expect to see petrol, diesel, PHEV and BEV versions of other BMWs soon. That said, there is still the possibility that local lineups for Australia will be tweaked to match customer demand. The iX3 has been confirmed for arrival here in mid-2021.

2020 Mini Countryman PHEV review4
The BMW Group (including Mini) will offer petrol, diesel, plug-in hybrid and full-electric vehicles in each model line. Pictured: Mini Countryman PHEV.

“There is a wide choice of technologies we would like to continue offering to customers. What we are showing now with the BMW X3, as the first model line to be available with all the different drivetrains, is the path we are continuing for all the model lines in the future.”

The philosophy represents a departure from BMW’s previous approach of developing lightweight electric-only platforms like the ‘Carbon Core’ chassis that sits under the brand’s i3 all-electric hatch. The high cost of such an approach was ditched in favour of making the Munich brand’s ‘Cluster Architecture’ platform electric-ready from the beginning. CLAR, as the chassis is known internally, underpins every BMW larger than, and including, the 3 Series sedan and wagon and X3 SUV.

All of that being said, the ‘power of choice’ mantra will still see outdated combustion engine technologies phased out in order to meet rigorous European Union emissions standards. Mr Bruch said all combustion BMW engines will feature 48-volt mild hybrid (MHEV) tech in future in a bid to lower fuel consumption.

The ‘power of choice’ strategy is a departure from BMW’s development of specific electric vehicles and platforms. Pictured: BMW i3.

By the end of 2021, two-thirds of BMW’s vehicles fitted with petrol or diesel engines will have 48-volt MHEV technology incorporated as standard – but Mr Bruch was at pains to note that unlike some other manufacturers, BMW does not lump MHEV in with their definition of electrified vehicles – they prefer to see MHEV as a natural extension of the combustion engine.

Bruch also says that ‘power of choice’ will assist BMW in dealing with the increasingly complex web of emissions regulations and targets in various markets. A variety of European countries have announced that they will pursue full or partial bans on internal combustion vehicles in 2030, while Norway plans to enact an even more bullish target of 2025.

“It is a complex game to keep track of all the different markets with all the ever-changing incentivisation schemes,” Mr Bruch said. “We carefully monitor all the markets with their announcements about when they are to ban internal combustion engines, and when they announce new inventive schemes for PHEVs, or the end of incentivisation schemes. All that, we feel, confirms our approach that flexibility for the next many years is key”

BMW iX3 electric SUV schemtatic
The Cluster Architecture platform that underpins most new BMWs was developed to be electric-ready from the beginning.

The strategy will also allow BMW to be more competitive if these quite radical plans to ban combustion engines are relaxed, Bruch claimed. “We are only at the beginning of all these complex observations, and we are now in a natural phase where sometimes announcements might have been a bit overexaggerated, and then it [may] be adjusted in future again. If the world decided climate protection is not that important, we would be prepared for that one, too.”

BMW is right so suggest that targets are easy to announce while firm bans are harder to follow through with politically – but Mr Bruch also pointed out that the Munich manufacturer’s view was that the COVID-19 pandemic should not be an excuse to slow down progress in reducing vehicle emissions.

“There is a debate to what extent the COVID-19 crisis should affect future CO2 targets, and there are some players out there who are suggesting diluting or reducing the next [European Union] CO2 targets, in favour of the crisis recovery for economics, and so on. We at BMW are not part of that group. We feel COVID-19 should not lead to any dilution or lowering of CO2 targets. We will make our contributions, and we are sticking to those targets that have been set already.”

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Audi e-tron S and Sportback Audi e-tron S coming to Australia in 2021 with 973Nm

Audi has detailed the e-tron S Quattro, the brands first ever performance-oriented electric vehicle; it promises a whopping 973Nm of torque and a top speed of 210km/h.

Outside the S won’t be mistaken for the cooking e-tron either, with swollen guards broadening its stance by 46mm, the e-tron S sits squat on the road like the blistered RS6.

While we think the wagon-bodied e-tron S looks stunning in practical wagon-body, it’s difficult to deny the appeal of that slinky Sportback body-style. Luckily, Audi gives customers the power to choose.

Audi e-tron S Sportback Rear
Slinky Sportback or practical wagon?

Naturally, the maximum range is down on the regular e-tron, but not by much. Audi claims the S reached 364km in the WLTP test, however, expect that to fall when driven with gusto.

Audi will launch the e-tron S in Germany in the third quarter of this year priced from €91,435 for the wagon-bodied vehicle, which equates to around AUD$149,000 at the current exchange rate.

So what do you get for the extra outlay? Well for a start, an additional motor. Audi was keen to point out that the e-tron S will be the first EV to market that employs three electric motors. It should give the big e-tron an advantage in the corners where the system will be able to vary torque levels between wheels infinitely.

Audi e-tron S Rolling
Dual rear motors, a first for a production car.

Audi claims this system creates less drivetrain drag and allows torque distribution within milliseconds, faster than a mechanical differential and with less wear than a brake-based torque-vectoring system.

That third motor adds some oomph too, the combined system power is now 370kW, up by 70kW compared to the e-tron 55. The torque figure is now truly monstrous, Audi claims a maximum twisting force of 973Nm for up to four seconds. If you’re wondering, that’s 313Nm more than the regular e-tron.

The front motor of the e-tron S is the rear motor of the e-tron 55 Quattro. All that adds up to a standard sprint time of just 4.5 seconds which we reckon is pretty respectable for a 2.5-tonne monster, though still adrift of the 3.4 second Tesla Model 3 Performance.

Audi e-tron S Sportback Front
Either way, the body is broader by 46mm

Battery capacity is rated at 86kWh usable from a total of 95kWh total. Charging won’t be too onerous thanks to fast-charging speeds of up to 150kW.

Putting that power to the ground is a set of 285-series tyres which nestle those flared guards – they’re 23mm broader on each side if you were wondering. Audi also claims they are optimised for aerodynamic flow, resulting in a drag coefficient of just 0.26 for the Sportback.

There is also a more advanced adaptive air suspension system in the e-tron S. In sport mode the vehicles reads the road ahead and can adjust its height by up to 76mm depending on the situation and cornering loads.

Audi e-tron S rear
The e-tron can vary its ride height by 76mm.

Standard wheel size is pretty generous at 20-inches, though 21-inch alloys are optional and pictured here. Audi says that massive 22-inch items will be an option down the track. These hide six-piston front callipers underneath them which are operated by a brake by wire system, allowing braking force to be applied in just 150 milliseconds.

Naturally, regen braking is present to recharge the battery, with three levels of aggressiveness from which to choose. The most powerful should allow for one-pedal driving maximum braking force around 0.3g, while the other two more closely simulate engine braking of an ICE car for highway use.

The cabin will be familiar to those who have spent time in contemporary Audis with dual MMI touchscreens – the top for infotainment and the bottom for cabin comfort setting like air conditioning. In front of the driver is a 12.3-inch digital driver’s display with integrated navigation.

Audi e-tron S Sportback Profile
The e-tron S will join the e-tron 50 Quattro in Australia by 2021

The e-tron S will go on sale in Europe soon, with Australian vehicles arriving in 2021.

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2021 Skoda Enyaq iV Lead Skoda Enyaq iV charges into EV market with up to 510km of range

Skoda’s first EV is coming; it’s called the Enyaq iV and sits on the same MEB platform that will underpin the entire Volkswagen ID range.

Thomas Schäfer, CEO of Skoda, was very excited about the Enyaq’s launch. “The ENYAQ iV sees the start of a new era for ŠKODA. This is our first all-electric vehicle… we are making E-Mobility Simply Clever – with long ranges, quick charging, ease of operation and affordable prices.”

Initial pictures suggest the Enyaq will be a great looking vehicle if perhaps a little pragmatic. It’s different to the out-there VW ID range; instead, it adopts current Skoda design language. There is undoubtedly hints of Scala and Octavia in the design, but the Enyaq has much shorter overhangs than either.

2021 Skoda Enyaq iV Profile
Octavia meets Scala? Maybe? It’s definitely a Skoda, though.

Dimensions of the Enyaq are somewhat similar to the Octavia, it’s 10mm shorter at 4,649mm, but 65mm wider (1,879mm) and Skoda class it as an SUV, hence it 1,616mm height. The Czech brand claims an impressive 585L of boot space on offer, too.

That is, naturally, down to its EV underpinnings. When Enyaqs begin arriving with customers, Skoda says they will offer five powertrain combinations with a maximum range of 510km. 

To reach the impressive 510km figure, you’ll need the Enyaq 80 powered with the largest 77kWh battery pack. In rear-drive configuration, the 80 touts outputs of 150kW and 310Nm from a rear-mounted electric motor.

2021 Skoda Enyaq iV charging
510km WLTP range and 125kW fast-charging are possible with the Enyaq 80.

Less powerful options are available, starting with the entry-level 109kW Enyaq 50 which claims 52kWh of usable battery capacity, rear-wheel-drive and a V-Max of 160km/h. That equates to WLTP certified range of 340km.

The more potent Enyaq 60 offers beefier outputs of 132kW and 310Nm and 58kWh of battery capacity which the brand says is enough for a 390km range. There’s also an 80x variant on offer with the 77kWh battery, but all-wheel-drive power and torque figures sit at 195kW and 425Nm, and the claimed range is 460km.

Those looking for Octavia RS rivalling performance may find themselves looking to the RS, a more athletic variant with all-wheel-drive – courtesy of dual motors – and outputs of 225kW and 460Nm. Although the range drops to 460km, the RS will complete the standard sprint in just 6.2 seconds.

2021 Skoda Enyaq iV badging
The RS can tow up to 1,400kg and get to 100km/h in 6.2 seconds.

A bonus of the most powerful Enyaq RS is its ability to tow a 1,400kg load with a retractable tow-bar offered as an option on the most expensive variant.

The Enyaq 50 is limited to 50kW fast-charging, while the 60 can charge at 100kW. The three variants equipped with the 77kWh battery can be charged at up to 125kW.

Inside Skoda has employed sustainable materials everywhere, with many recycled and ethically sourced substances available. We particularly like the pictured tan almost houndstooth fabric on this founders edition.

2021 Skoda Enyaq iV Interior
The interior employs recycled and sustainably sourced materials.

The design is contemporary without being overwhelming, the digital driver’s display and large 13.0-inch centrally mounted touchscreen will make it easy to understand for newcomers. The centre console is split-levelled, too, allowing for tidy item storage.

Images suggest that the cabin will be an airy place to spend time, though we hope to confirm that as soon as possible.

The Founders edition is limited to 1,895 units, a reference to the brand’s 125th anniversary and deliveries will start in the second quarter of 2021. The limited-edition boasts an illuminated front grille, a choice of two colours, 21-inch alloy wheels and more aggressive designs for the front and rear bumpers.

2021 Skoda Enyaq iV Girlle
And the grille glows with the light of 140 LEDS (on upper-trim models only).

In typical Skoda fashion, there are plenty of practical touches to this EV with cleverly divided pockets under the boot floor to store charging cables, charging socket cap and extra storage, too.

Skoda is taking pre-orders for the limited Enyaq Founders Edition now, though exact Australian details are yet to be confirmed.

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2021 BMW 545e Lead 2021 BMW 545e Sedan is a PHEV with a smooth straight-six

BMW has announced a new PHEV powertrain for the handsome 5 Series line-up. The 545e teams a silky smooth inline-six with an electric motor for a combined output of 290kW.

This is supplemented by an electric-only range of over 50km and combined fuel consumption claimed as low as 2.1L/100km. Not bad for a three-litre ‘six.

The Bavarians say the 5 Series has sold “nearly 50,000” PHEV models, making it the most popular choice, even though BMW offers this same drivetrain in its trendier X5 SUV.

2021 BMW 545e Snout
The blue headlight accents tell you it’s a PHEV.

As for whether the electrified ‘six will make it to Australia to replace the now-defunct 540i, we’ll have to wait and see. If the 545e joins other 5 Series models here, the vehicle will face tough competition from Mercedes-Benz’s new E300e and Audi’s A6, though that car has no PHEV option.

BMW has spread its eggs quite wide, not just focusing on all-electric vehicles like the iX3 and Concept i4, but also on sneakily sliding electrification alongside otherwise mainstream cars, a sort of preparation for future mobility, if you like.

Vital statistics for the 545e are as follows – up front is a familiar ‘B58’ turbocharged three-litre straight-six that produces 210kW on its own. The combustion engine is teamed with an 80kW synchronous electric motor for combined system outputs of 290kW and 600Nm.

2021 BMW 545e Front 3/4
It’s faster than the petrol-powered 540i, too.

In combination with a ZF eight-speed torque-converter gearbox and xDrive all-wheel-drive, the 545e should complete the standard sprint in 4.7 seconds, or one tenth faster than the 540i xDrive sedan.

Compared to the 250kW 540i, the 545e improves fuel use drastically. Claimed consumption for the combustion ‘six is 7.7L/100km, the 545e is claimed to sneak under 2.5L/100km. This isn’t just affected around town, on the freeway the larger battery size of the 545e will allow sailing at higher speeds for further fuel saving.

The 400V lithium-ion batteries are, however, situated under the boot floor of the 545e which encroaches on luggage space slightly. Boot volume shrinks from 530L to 410L.

2021 BMW 545e Boot
Although the batteries do eat into the boot space.

Switchable drive modes naturally rear their head, and drivers will be set to Hybrid mode by default, which uses a combination of two power sources without restriction pace too much. Selecting Sport mode means all 290kW will be available to the driver, though we presume fuel consumption will suffer somewhat. 

Double pressing the Hybrid button activates Eco Pro which will dull responses and prioritise electric power. BMW claims the 545e can travel up to 57km on battery power alone, and reach 140km/h, or more than quick enough to hurt your license in Australia.

A unique jingle, designed by Hans Zimmer, will greet drivers when they switch on the 545e, BMW says. There is also an exterior acoustic warning engineered into the 5 Series, which activates below 30km/h to warn pedestrians of its presence. 

2021 BMW 545e Profile
The 545e is smart enough to know when you’re in low-emission zones.

In European settings the navigation system is smart enough to know when a driver has entered a low emissions zone and, BMW says the vehicle will default “the drive system to purely electric mode” without human intervention.

It’s all pretty intelligent, but whether the 545e will join the rather popular 530e here in Australia is yet to be confirmed. We hope it does, because right now the Australian 5 Series range is sorely lacking the brand’s signature petrol ‘six.

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2021 Ioniq EVs LEAD Hyundai announces Ioniq, EV-exclusive brand to challenge VW ID

The Hyundai Ioniq was a small sedan that spearheaded the Korean brand’s drive for lower emissions, while offering the unique choice of hybrid, PHEV and fully electric variants in Australia.

Now that nameplate – a blend of “iconic” and “unique” – has expanded into a whole new brand. As Genesis is the luxury arm of Hyundai, Ioniq will now be the green branch with three new fully electric vehicles slated in the next four years.

First to break onto the market will be a compact crossover which, Hyundai says, will be reminiscent of the 45 concept car and should arrive sometime in 2021, named the Ioniq 5.

2021 Ioniq 5 side
The concept car that will inform the future of Ioniq.

Designers say it harks back to the ItalDesign Pony Concept of 1974 but reimagined through parametric design algorithms. This is fast becoming technique a synonymous with Hyundai styling, and one that has notably informed the many details of the Genesis GV80.

As for the following models, the brand has decided that even numbers will represent traditional saloons, a la the Ioniq 6, with a larger SUV dubbed the Ioniq 7 to follow.

The brand’s current raft of EVs including the Kona Electric and aforementioned Ioniq small sedan will, for now, remain housed under the Hyundai name. However, it sounds like they will be quickly superseded by these all-new electric vehicles.

2021 Ioniq Design sketch
Can you spot the resemblance between the Pony and the 45 concept?

While the Kona Electric currently has around 450km of real-world range, though it sits on the same underpinnings as the regular Kona and as such has to work around packaging compromises.

Like Volkswagen has done with the ID.3, the new Ioniq brand has been developing an EV only platform dubbed the E-GMP. The brand claims this will allow “fast-charging and plentiful driving range”. Naturally, potential battery size and exact capabilities will be revealed in time, but expect the new platform to house more than the Kona’s 64kWh of charge. 

The all-new platform is also said to provide ever-more freedom for designers who will be able to craft interiors of future Ioniqs into “smart living spaces” to offer maximum relaxation for operators. 

2021 Ioniq Prophecy/6 rear
Ioniq’s second model – the 6 – will be a sedan based on Hyundai’s Prophecy concept.

Hyundai says the recently teased Prophecy concept gives a glimpse into the Ioniq’s second model, a sedan dubbed the ‘6’, all we see is the exterior possibilities.

Images from inside the 45 concept demonstrate an open-plan cockpit-style that will presumably influence the final product. The dual-width touchscreen in the render isn’t too far-fetched, we’ve seen a similar thing in the production-ready production-ready Honda E.

However, the “projection beam interface” for the passenger seems like a novel idea. Without a transmission tunnel to get in the way, though, the interior can truly become open-plan with extended leg-room possibilities and hugely increased modularity for all occupants.

2021 Ioniq 5 Interior
Open-plan modernist interiors? Yes please.

Hyundai’s vision of future-mobility is quickly becoming a reality. With these three Ioniq vehicles emerging over the next four years the brand is keen to become a leader in the EV segment, with the target of over one million BEV sales by 2025.

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