The BMW i4, iX, & iX3 Are Coming To South Africa!

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There was a time when my dream car was a BMW. Here is how my love for BMW started. In high school, along with Physics, French was my other favorite subject. I had been very keen on learning the French language during my primary school days because my father, my sister, and my older brothers, who had learnt it at school in Mutare, Zimbabwe, would sometimes speak it at home. I really wanted to be part of the action. So even in the early years of my primary school days, I could count to 10  or 20 in French and say a few phrases, which was pretty cool for me. French is not one of the official languages in Zimbabwe, but it is offered as an option in some schools.

As part of her university degree, my sister, who is the eldest in our family, went to France for a bit. We lived in Mutare then, which is about 263 kilometers from the capital city of Zimbabwe, Harare. My father drove us to Harare in our ICE Renault 12 sedan to see off my sister. I still remember at the old departure terminal at Harare’s International airport, there was a viewing deck where we could see the passengers walking to board their plane. It was a bit of a walk to the plane, but it was pretty cool as you could shout and wave to passengers as they walked to board the plane. My sister was flying on Air France, on a beautiful Boeing 747. I had never seen a jumbo jet up close before, so it was quite a beautiful sight for me. When she came back from France she brought many gifts, including a wristwatch for me, and of course a lot of chocolate. She also had many wonderful stories about her trip to France, which made me want to learn the language even more and dream of also visiting France one day.

When I started Form 1, which is the first year of high school in Zimbabwe, at Mutare Boys High, I checked our class timetable to make sure I was in one of the classes where French was offered. I was delighted to see I had been placed in the group where French was one of the subjects. Monsieur  Dickson was our professor. I loved every minute of it. A year later we moved to the capital, Harare, where I enrolled at Prince Edward School. For French, I was in Madame Kauffman’s class. She often used to play French songs on cassettes (that was in the mid-90s). During the World Cup in 1998 when I was in Form 4, we used to sing the song “La Cour des Grands” by Youssou N’Dour and Axelle Red in French class. It was the theme song for the Football World Cup which was hosted by France that year. My friends and I loved football (soccer) and this made it more exciting.  And of course, we would sing “Allez Les Bleus” in class during that World Cup and we were over the moon when Zinedine Zidane and the French Team won that World Cup.

Now, one day, as part of the lesson when we had a double period I think, Madame Kauffman brought a VCR and a video cassette of a movie for us to watch in French. That day would have a lasting impact on me. It was a James Bond movie, in French without any English subtitles. I had probably seen some Bond movies earlier in my life, but that day, maybe due to the fact that I really had to concentrate to follow all that was going on, I fell in love with the James Bond Series. Since that day, I began to follow all the Bond movies that came out after. I would always go to the movie house to watch every new release. This was the time when Golden Eye featured the BMW Z3, the 750 iL was in in Tomorrow Never Dies, and the Z8 was featured in the World is Not Enough. I thought they had to be the best cars in the world since James Bond was driving them. I was so sure I would only drive BMWs. I was also a big fan of Chris Bangle’s work.

When I started to follow developments in the EV space more closely, I kept a lookout for BMW EVs. When the i3 came out, I had been hoping to see an EV that looked more like the popular BMW 3 Series. The i3 has been quite successful and is actually the top selling electric vehicle of all time in South Africa, and the i8 also tops the plug-in hybrid charts.

BMW South Africa has actually been very good at promoting EVs in South Africa. Since 2015 when it brought in the first generation 60 Ah BMW i3, it consistently updated the i3 offering and added new models of the i3, that is the 90 Ah and 120 Ah versions. BMW South Africa also introduced plug-in hybrids of several models, including the BMW X5 xDrive45e that comes with a 24 kWh battery pack, giving an all-electric range of about 80 km — very impressive for an SUV of its size. Plug-in hybrids have always sparked interesting debates worldwide and here on CleanTechnica, but many view them as a stepping stone to full electric mobility in vast countries such as South Africa where the public charging infrastructure is still growing. BMW South Africa has also introduced the Mini Cooper SE. The Mini brand has always been a popular brand in South Africa and there is hope that this new all electric version will take its place in the hearts of the staunch Mini fans in South Africa. The Mini Cooper comes in to become the cheapest EV you can buy in South Africa. It starts at R642,000 ($42,000).

BMW South Africa is now turning it up another notch by introducing the all new BMW i4, the  iX, and the iX3! Thanks to Michel Clasquin-Johnson, who posted on the BMW i3 Community South Africa Facebook Group that the BMW South Africa website is now showing these new models and they should be coming soon. South Africa has been starved of new EV models and it’s really good to see BMW consistently bring new models to South Africa as soon as they are available on the world market. The BMW i4 M50: “the first fully-electric BMW with the typical M performance,” according to the BMW website, should really do well in this part of the world. It should appeal more to the traditional BMW fans than the old i3. The all-electric Gran Coupé achieves a maximum output of 400 kW and has an electronically limited top speed of 225 km/h. It is equipped with two BMW M eDrive engines. The BMW i4 M50 hits the 100 km/h mark in 3.9 seconds. The range is given as up to 500 km according to the WLTP test cycle.

The BMW iX xDrive50, with a range of over 600 km also on the WLTP test cycle, as well as the BMW iX xDrive40, with over 400 km, should also do quite well here. The BMW iX xDrive50 has two electric motors and BMW xDrive has electric all-wheel drive and over 368 kW. The BMW iX xDrive50 can go from 0 to 100 km/h in less than 5 seconds. With its 80 kWh battery and real-world range that is close to 400 km, the iX3 should be popular as well in South Africa. It has a 210 kW motor giving 400 Nm of torque. The iX3 shares the same platform as the plug-in hybrid, the mild hybrid, and the fossil fuel X3 models. The iX3 will be built at the BMW/Brilliance Automotive joint venture plant in China where BMW has been producing the X3. BMW also produces the X3 in Rosslyn, Pretoria, South Africa. Since they share the same platform, we hope in the long run BMW can start to also build the iX3 in Pretoria. So, it appears premium all-electric SUV models are set to light up South Africa’s EV market.

James Bond has also gone electric. The release of No Time To Die, the 25th installment in the James Bond Series and Daniel Craig’s fifth, will feature an Aston Martin Rapide E. The movie’s release has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. It should be released soon (hopefully) and we hope by then all these new electric models will be available in South Africa.


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