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BMW will launch an electric version of one of its most popular models in 2020

BMW released the first details of an upcoming electric version of its X3 crossover. The automaker previously showed a concept version of the model, called iX3, but is only now discussing specifications. The iX3 starts production in 2020, and will be sold alongside the existing gasoline X3 in the United States.

The iX3 will have BMW’s fifth-generation electric powertrain, which will also be used in the upcoming i4 sedan. A key improvement of the new powertrain is the way electric motors, the transmission, and related electronics are grouped together for more efficient packaging. The iX3’s motor design also eliminates the need for rare earth metals, BMW claims.

At launch, the iX3 will get a single electric motor sending 286 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels. Since this is a crossover, an all-wheel-drive option, likely with a second motor powering the front wheels, will probably appear after launch.

The iX3 will have a 74-kilowatt-hour battery pack, affording a range of 273 miles on the very optimistic European WLTP testing cycle. Expect the rating from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency testing cycle to be much lower. That means BMW likely won’t be able to match the range of the upcoming Tesla Model Y, which is expected to achieve 300 miles with rear-wheel drive, and 280 miles with all-wheel drive.

A scheduled production start date of 2020 means the iX3 will likely come to the U.S. as a 2021 model, but BMW hasn’t confirmed exactly when the electric crossover will launch here. Mercedes-Benz has pushed back the U.S. launch of its rival EQC by about a year to focus on sales in Europe, where stricter emissions standards provide a greater incentive to put more electric cars on the road. BMW could do the same with the iX3.

BMW was one of the first established automakers to commit to electric cars, but its i3 hatchback was too small and quirky to achieve mainstream appeal. The gasoline X3 is now BMW’s bestselling model in the U.S., it’s reasonable to expect the iX3 to appeal to a wider audience. In 2021, BMW will launch both the i4 sedan and a larger electric crossover code-named iNext. BMW’s Mini brand will also launch its first mass-market electric model in 2020.

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