“Freude am Fahren”: Germany leads in the automotive industry as BMW unveils flagship electric iX SUV
The new electric car is latest in a history of innovative vehicles developed in Germany.
Earlier this month, BMW released details of their new all-electric iX SUV which is due to hit UK showrooms at the end of 2021 – and estimated to leave a £100,000 hole in your pocket. As their impending flagship model, BMW hails the iX as the “dawn of a new era” in electric motoring, featuring a 100kWh battery feeding power to two motors situated on each of the car’s axles. From there, buyers can expect a power output in excess of 500bhp, with a 0-60mph time below five seconds.
More impressive is the iX’s promised range of 376 miles on a complete charge – around 100 miles more than the capacity of BMW’s recently unveiled compact all-electric SUV, the iX3,as well as 5G capabilities allowing for greatly improved driving and parking functionality.
But this certainly isn’t the first time that Germany has shown the world the next step forward in automotive innovation. Indeed, as the nation that produced the world’s first ever internal-combustion-powered vehicle, they know a thing or two about putting fresh ideas on four wheels.
Here are a few examples which mark Germany as a world-leading producer of cars...
The game-changing SUV: first-generation BMW X5
Photo: Vauxford, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
The original BMW X5, produced between 1999 and 2006 and known by its model code “E53”, is often credited as the godfather of Sports Utility Vehicles. From the marque known for its nimble, sporty saloons and lively luxury vehicles, much of BMW’s marketing in the run-up to the 2000s weighed heavily upon guarantees of providing “The Ultimate Driving Machine.”
The X5 had the benefit of being able to borrow from the Range Rover, itself owned by BMW, to ensure it could cope well with rough terrain and still drive as smoothly as a low-to-the-ground saloon. In fact, many of the X5’s interior parts were borrowed from the E39 5-Series, produced around the same time as the first-gen X5, lending a standard of build quality one came to expect from the Bavarian manufacturer.
This was a vital move into other markets by BMW, expanding their automotive line-up to cover every base of customer demand. The company’s move to luxury SUVs, that feel as suited to the hands of a hotel valet as those of even the hardiest off-roader, set the groundwork from which the upcoming iX has undoubtedly benefited.
The tank with leather seats: Mercedes S-Class
Launched in 1991, the W140 Mercedes-Benz S-Class was the brand’s flagship model until receiving a softer, rounder facelift in 1999 that was nowhere as stately as its older brother. The W140 was the weapon of choice for any buyer on the lookout for a high-price luxury vehicle with the safety factor of a rolling fort.
One of the first cars to ever have side-mounted airbags and stability control, as well as an early voice form of voice-activated controls and double-glazed windows, the W140 was perhaps the most luxurious mass-produced vehicle in the world. Long, rectangular, and impressively unpretentious, the W140 was the world standard in telling everybody you had taste and money – a lot – in equal quantities. After all, the top-of-the-line V12 600 SEL weighed over 2.5 tonnes.
Hollywood’s super saloon: 1990s BMW 7-Series
Photo: OSX, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
The BMW 7-Series as produced between 1994 and 2001 is generally regarded as the last true BMW luxury saloon in terms of styling. Retaining the brand’s characteristically sleek, boxy design that set it apart from other luxury brands, the 1990s 7-Series was an imposing yet understated limousine. Well received upon release for its sporting credentials, the E38’s ability to handle like a much smaller-feeling saloon made the car a noteworthy fixture in many Hollywood films.
Most famously known as 007’s vehicle of choice in Tomorrow Never Dies, driven via remote control from the back seat while being pursued through a multi-storey car park, Will Smith also drove one in the espionage thriller Enemy of the State (1998). Two 7-Series are totaled in a chase through Shanghai in Mission: Impossible III (2006), and more notably a $90,000 top-of-the-line 750iL is crashed into a river with Michael Douglas locked in the back, in David Fincher’s 1997 thriller The Game.
As BMW leads the charge on innovative, eco-friendly vehicles for the digital age, it is important to recognise the history that has driven them forward. As impressive as it may be to see a new full-size, all-electric SUV with a battery that can charge to 80% power in just 40 minutes, this latest iX certainly hasn’t come from nowhere. It follows in the footsteps of over a hundred years of leaps forward in design, engineering and marketing, and the prospect of what lies along the road ahead for the German automotive industry is more exciting than ever.