Tech

The BMW iNext arrives next week to take on Tesla's Model Y

Concept photos show the electric BMW iNext looks like a crossover or small SUV.

BMW

BMW has announced that it will unveil the production version of its iNext electric vehicle on November 11. The iNext has been promoted as a competitor to Tesla, as BMW has cast doubt on Elon Musk's company's ability to produce cars at scale in the $35,000 price range — and said that the iNext will compete in that price-conscious segment.

Officially, Tesla's Model Y was unveiled after the iNext, but the first version of the iNext was packed with outlandish ideas like touch-sensitive fabrics and interior projectors. By the look of early pictures of the iNext, the Model Y is the car that BMW is really competing with.

BMW

Kidney grille lovers, rejoice — There's little known about the iNext besides that it will be a crossover-like vehicle with a range of around 360 miles on a charge. It's supposed to go into production at BMW's Dingolfing plant in Germany in 2021 and be made available for sale in the U.S.

BMW was an early player in the electric car space when it released the i3 stateside all the way back in 2016. It had an unconventional design but a low range of 153 miles — and with a starting price of $44,450, it's no longer a competitive offering. BMW has been slow to introduce new electric cars since, reserving its iX3 for Europe and Asia because of its lower 200-mile range that wasn't deemed sufficient for American buyers.

BMW is now trying to play catch-up and has said it plans to launch more than 20 electric cars by 2023.

BMW

BMW first unveiled the above concept of the iNEXT back in 2018, and the final design is expected to look similar. As you can see, BMW's iconic "kidney bean" grille is... quite large here. We prefer a more understated look, but you might like something extroverted. Not that an electric car even needs a grille — the front area is typically used as extra trunk space, and there's no engine to cool beneath the hood.

The pie is big enough — Even if BMW is positioning this as a Tesla rival, it's not a zero-sum game. Should trends continue on the current trajectory and electric vehicles continue to take market share from traditional combustion cars, there will be plenty of space for traditional automakers who embrace the trend to succeed (like GM with its Hummer EV and Cadillac Lyriq, or Ford with its hybrid Bronco). Different segments of the market have different taste preferences, and some people will like the aggressive look of this iNext compared to the more subtle styling of the Tesla.

The #NextGen 2020 event, as BMW is calling it, will kick off with a six-part series of videos that show a film crew "chase through all sorts of different departments at the BMW Group searching for the BMW iNext, whose final design will be revealed for the first time at 2 p.m. (C.E.T.) on 11 November." If you want to watch for yourself, the live stream will be here.