Despite having to yet make its global debut, BMW have announced its first-ever 5 Series with a fully electric drive system has recently undergone a programme of testing on ice and snow. In the tests, lasting about a year in wintry conditions on country roads, motorways and specially prepared test tracks, the new BMW i5 reportedly demonstrated both the stability of its electric powertrain and its dynamic performance qualities.
The testing began in February 2022 when 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 BMW Group’s winter test centre at Arjeplog, northern Sweden, on 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. Featuring cutting-edge battery cell technology and intelligently controlled thermal management, the fifth-generation BMW eDrive technology – further upgraded for the new BMW i5 – forms the basis for long ranges and short charging times during breaks in the journey, even in extreme sub-zero ambient temperatures.
The vast expanses of ice at Arjeplog, created the perfect setting for exploring how the chassis components, steering, and braking systems, and driving dynamic and driving stability systems all interact with one another in extreme outdoor conditions. As a result, the groundwork for the authoritative, assured and characteristically sporty handling of the new BMW i5 were already laid in the first test drives in Arjeplog.
This was followed by more testing 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 honing the drive unit’s power delivery, to always produce a well-resolved driving experience. The BMW engineers involved in the vehicle project were able to directly inspect the current state of development through testing in the BMW brand’s native Bavaria before it was time to return to endurance testing near the Arctic Circle in February 2023.
While a debut date has yet to be confirmed for the i5, the completion of this test suggests a 2023 launch is likely, maybe within a couple of months.