Final Testing Of New BMW i5 EV Before Launch Later In 2023

There was a time when carmakers tried very hard to prevent their prototypes from being seen and photographed. Back then, it was mainly professionals who hunted for the prototypes undergoing testing in remote places like the Arctic Circle, Death Valley (in America) and Africa. People like the Hans Lehmann, Brenda Priddy and the late Bob Dunne made a lot of money selling their pictures to magazines.

But with the advent of cameraphones and the possibility of anyone standing by the roadside taking a picture and then putting it on the internet where the whole world would see it, the thinking changed. And rather than let those people make money, the companies decided to exploit the attention by teasing the public with their own ‘spy shots’ of camouflaged cars.

BMW was one of the companies to switch tactics and in fact actually started off by spoiling the chance of a spy photographer making big money. When they knew a picture had been taken of a camouflaged car, they quickly released a couple of clear pictures of the actual car (sometimes without camouflage). The result was that after spending a lot of money flying to Africa to wait for the camouflaged prototypes to pass by, the photographer’s pictures – which might also have been a bit blurry – were worthless!

BMW has since been providing glimpses of new models periodically, especially when they are undergoing testing in extreme conditions. In one way, it is to show the public just how much work is put into ensuring that all systems are thoroughly tested before the model is put into production, and it also generates interest in the new model.

That’s what the company is doing with the first 5-Series with a fully electric drive system – the i5. To be launched during the second half of 2023, this will be the eighth generation of BMW’s successful series which has sold over 10 million units in its 50-year history.

The prototypes have been undergoing final testing in extremely low temperatures, conditions which have a lot of effect on an electric powertrain. The programme of testing on ice and snow has been going on for about a year in all, from the initial test runs to the final stages of fine-tuning.

During the extensive testing on country roads, motorways and specially prepared test tracks, the development engineers mainly focused their attention on the car’s ability to drive at low temperatures and on surfaces offering little grip.

The powertrain and chassis control systems on board the new i5 do a great deal to optimise its traction, dynamism and driving stability, and nowhere is this more apparent than on a solid blanket of snow, icy mountain roads or frozen lakes. These are the conditions found at the BMW Group’s winter test centre at Arjeplog in northern Sweden.

The programme got underway a year ago when the first i5 prototype travelled to Arjeplog from BMW’s home city of Munich in Germany. The fully camouflaged battery-electric sedan, covered with a special wrap, plastic attachments, grilles and provisional headlights and rear lights, travelled for 5 days to reach northern Sweden.

The journey of around 3,000 kms provided an early opportunity for the engineers to assess the motors, power electronics, high-voltage battery and integrated heating and cooling system for the cabin and battery pack. Many of the systems are part of the fifth-generation BMW eDrive technology, further upgraded for the i5.

Once at the test centre, the development team began testing chassis components, steering and braking systems, and driving dynamic and driving stability systems. They wanted how these systems interacted with one another in extreme outdoor conditions.

More testing followed over the course of 2022, both at other BMW Group test facilities and in everyday driving in and around Munich as well as in the vicinity of BMW Group Plant Dingolfing. The task here was to continue refining the car’s chassis technology and acoustic properties under a wide variety of conditions, as well as the drive unit’s power delivery, in order to produce a well-resolved driving experience at all times.

At the BMW Group Annual Conference 2023, Oliver Zipse, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, mentioned that the new 5-Series range would include an all-electric BMW M Performance model. “The all-electric BMW i4 M50 shows how BMW blends dynamic performance and electric mobility to perfection,” said Zipse. “It was the best-selling BMW M model worldwide in 2022. A fully electric Performance model from BMW M GmbH will also be included in the new BMW 5-Series Sedan line-up.”

He also revealed that a new variant would be added to the familiar choice of engines for the new 5-Series Touring in the form of an all-electric powertrains. “The BMW 5-Series Touring is very popular, particularly in Europe. An all-electric version will give us a truly unique selling point in this segment,” he said.

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