Electric Cars

BMW iNext electric SUV teasers take us inside a secretive prototype plant

Before cars are ready for serial production, their earliest variants take shape in Munich.

There's probably a whole bunch of stuff in this plant that we won't see for months or years.

BMW

BMW has not been shy when it comes to sharing teasers of the upcoming iNext electric SUV. While we wait to see the real thing, BMW has seen fit to share a new round of teasers and give the public a little more information about how these preproduction prototypes are put together.

BMW on Tuesday published a few more teasers for the iNext SUV. The teasers don't show anything we haven't seen -- most of the body remains covered in shape-hiding camouflage, but from what we can tell, it looks like a pretty ordinary SUV, rocking a similar silhouette to other new BMW SUVs like the X3 and X5.

The location of the teasers, however, is quite interesting. BMW took these shots at its Pilot Plant in Munich, part of the automaker's research and innovation center. This is where BMW builds the early prototype versions of the cars that will eventually head to production. In addition to secretly assembling metal people won't see for months (or longer), BMW uses this early assembly process to refine things for when the vehicle begins serial production on a proper assembly line.

BMW outlined a few clever processes that go into building the iNext. Rotary bonding, which uses friction to join aluminum and high-strength steel, is one of the newer technologies being employed on the line as automakers continue to blend metals in vehicle bodies. Once the shells are assembled, lasers and radar are used to ensure the body is correctly put together, replacing an older method of manually checking measurement points. There's also a process called computer tomography that uses X-rays to scan vehicles and examine specific parts in detail without disassembling the vehicle.

The BMW iNext will enter production in 2021, and by the time assembly commences, some 100 prototypes will have been built.

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