BMW recently completed a part of the testing program for the electric i5 in the wintry conditions of Northern Europe and these prototypes provide us with camouflaged look at the forthcoming electric saloon.
The new BMW i5 repeatedly demonstrated both the stability of its electric powertrain and its dynamic performance qualities over the course of arduous test drives in wintry conditions. The programme of testing on ice and snow lasted 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 innovative powertrain and chassis control systems on board the new BMW 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. It was only right that the dynamic winter testing of the purely electrically powered sedan recently finished exactly where it began: in the biting cold of the BMW Group’s winter test centre at Arjeplog, northern Sweden.
As part of the production development process, the new BMW i5 first had to prove its mettle back in February 2022, when it completed a road trip from Munich to the BMW test centre at Arjeplog. A prototype model of the all-electric BMW 5 Series fully camouflaged with a special wrap, plastic attachments, grilles and provisional headlights and rear lights set off on a five-day test drive from the foothills of the Bavarian Alps up to Denmark, then on to the edge of the Arctic Circle in Swedish Lapland.
The journey of around 3,000 kilometres (1,850 miles) provided an early opportunity for the motors, power electronics, high-voltage battery and integrated heating and cooling system for the cabin and battery pack to demonstrate their advanced level of readiness on a long-distance journey.
In the most recent round of testing in Sweden, BMW set about fine-tuning all powertrain and chassis control systems. These include a Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system that includes a near-actuator wheel slip limitation function and a drive torque control system to ensure the i5 “performs at least as proficiently as any conventionally powered model on ice and snow.”
A debut date still hasn't been confirmed for the i5 saloon - nor its ICE counterpart or the keenly anticipated i5 Touring estate, which was recently confirmed. But with this test programme dispatched and a 2023 launch confirmed, it's expected to be only a matter of months until the wraps come off.