BMW unveils its new aero wheels that will debut on the iX3 electric SUV later this year, but they will also be available on all its other upcoming electric cars, like the iNext, and i4 next year.
After years of waiting for its first electric car, the BMW i3 in 2013, BMW is preparing a series of new electric cars starting with the iX3 this year.
They are all going to be powered by the German automaker’s 5th generation electric powertrain, but that’s not all they are going to have in common.
All of BMW’s new electric vehicles are going to have an aero wheel option, which has become popular with electric vehicles in order to enable better aerodynamic performance and increase range without having to add more batteries.
In the early days of the Model S (2012-2013), Tesla briefly had an aero wheel option for the vehicle, but it was discontinued. With the development of the Model 3, Tesla decided to bring back aero wheels.
In a post last year, Robert Palin, who has held many positions in Tesla’s aerodynamics team since 2009, explained how important the wheels were to the Model 3’s design. A Tesla VP of Engineering also previously said that Tesla Model 3’s aero wheels can increase efficiency by ~10% versus the bigger non-aero 19″ wheels.
Some more recent real-world testing showed that Tesla’s aero wheels improve range by 3% at high speed with the aero caps on versus off.
Several more automakers are now launching electric vehicles with aero wheels and BMW is on board:
“In today’s automobiles, the wheels and their aerodynamic flow influence the overall vehicle efficiency by up to 30%. That is why a further developed technology of the BMW Aerodynamic Wheel is making its debut together with the BMW iX3, whose market launch is planned for 2020: The new combination of aluminum base wheel and individually designed inserts complement the efficient basic alignment of the BMW Group’s first purely electric Sport Activity Vehicle (SAV) effectively.”
BMW claims that the new wheels reduce drag by about 5% compared to the wheels on a gas-powered BMW X3 and that they are 15% lighter.
However, they are customizable so they might look different on these two new vehicles.
The company says that in terms of range, it should result in 10 more kilometers on the iX3:
“Their benefits in terms of aerodynamics and weight have the overall effect of lowering power consumption for the BMW iX3 by another 2% in the European WLTP test cycle – equating to 0.4 kWh/100 km – and thereby extending the vehicle range by 10 kilometers.”
BMW says that the wheels will also be coming to the iNext and BMW i4, which are going to be introduced in 2021.
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