BMW iX1 electric SUV confirmed

Smaller BMW X1-based model will follow the iX3 as the brand's next electric SUV

BMW has officially confirmed an electric version of the strong-selling X1 SUV will join the range in the future – along with zero-emissions variants of the 5 Series and 7 Series saloons. 

The news comes just weeks after Wieland Bruch, spokesman for the BMW iX3 project, told DrivingElectric that BMW believed in offering its customers the “Power of Choice” – insisting it would continue to sell multiple powertrain options across its expanding SUV range.

Speaking exclusively to DrivingElectric at the time, Bruch said the team could "well imagine X1 to be fully electrified".

Now, BMW has issued an official statement announcing a battery-electric X1. The release said “comprehensive electrification will be rolled out throughout the model line-up.

“Further examples of the “Power of Choice” will be the high-volume BMW X1 and BMW 5 Series," it said. "[X1 and 5 Series] will also be available in the future with all four drivetrain variants – fully electric, plug-in hybrid, diesel and petrol with [mild-hybrid] technology.”

Thought to follow the iX3’s nomenclature by using the BMW iX1 badge, the brand’s smallest SUV would likely offer a slightly smaller battery and thus a shorter electric range. It’d take its styling cues from its bigger brother, including the electric X3’s blue accents and aerodynamic alloy wheels. Like the iX3, we can expect a small compromise when it comes to the iX1’s boot space and practicality.

The iX1 is expected to sit on an adapted version of the existing X1’s mechanical platform. While this doesn’t currently form the basis of any pure-electric model, it shares much with the underpinnings of the MINI Electric.

When challenged as to whether or not electrifying a larger, heavier model like the BMW X5 might have a greater impact on reducing overall emissions, Bruch said: “You can make a calculation; what is the global CO2 impact? You will always come to the conclusion that the total amount per model line is higher when you electrify another good-selling model series, compared with something like X5 or X6.

“For sure, per single car, the impact would be higher when you electrify [X5/X6], but we always look at the overall sales per model line,” Bruch said. “This is also how the lawmakers look at it.”

By electrifying models like the iX1, BMW would, in effect, have all the necessary parts to make an iX2 electric SUV. Other models on the same platform include the 1 Series hatchback, the 2 Series Active Tourer and Gran Tourer MPVs, the MINI Clubman and the MINI Countryman. The iX1 will eventually join the iX3, as well as the forthcoming i4 and iNEXT models, both due by the end of 2021.

It’s not clear when the iX1 would launch, but given the car has just been given a mid-life facelift – with the inclusion of a plug-in hybrid version – we expect BMW would wait until the all-new X1 arrives around 2023 before revealing an electric variant. To compete with models like the Tesla Model Y and Ford Mustang MACH-E, a starting price of just under £50,000 is likely.