This week BMW revealed a concept version of its first battery-electric SUV, the iX3 Concept. The thinly-veiled concept is offering up a preview of the brand’s first electric SUV, which will be imported to Europe and the U.S. from China.
BMW plans to begin producing the iX3 in 2020 at its joint-venture plant in Shenyang, according to joint-venture partner Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd. Initial production will be for the local market in China, but ultimately the Chinese plant will be the sole supplier of iX3’s globally.
The move marks a few firsts for BMW. The iX3 will be the brand’s first battery-electric SUV, joining the ranks of the Jaguar I-Pace and Tesla Model X. BMW says the iX3 will offer a range of about 250 miles when fully-charged. In an effort to reduce development costs, the iX3 will be heavily based on the regular X3 SUV, something that’s readily obvious with the iX3 Concept’s design.
Additionally, the iX3 will be the first BMW nameplate to be built in China for global markets. Currently only the X1 plug-in hybrid is built in China.
BMW’s choice of China for producing its first electric SUV comes as little surprise. Like other auto brands, BMW is working to meet strict new emissions standards in the world’s largest automotive market. Automakers are also compelled to export from China thanks to the country’s Made in China 2025 incentive initiative.
The iX3 is also part of BMW’s strategy to bring 12 fully-electric vehicles to market by 2025.