When I was given the opportunity to test an electric vehicle for a few days, I originally looked forward to bringing it to La Union as I knew of a hotel there that had a fast charger. But my excitement waned after a recent brush with COVID-19, so I decided to simply confine the car to city limits. I thought it was a good plan because it would keep me from experiencing range anxiety.
Even in first-world countries, range anxiety is an inescapable part of EV ownership. That problem becomes more apparent in the Philippines where support for zero-emissions vehicles is nearly nonexistent. But interest in EVs appears to be significant enough for carmakers to bring in a few models, and that’s evident in the BMW iX, which I had for a few days.
Before I get to my brief EV experience, let me talk about the iX first. No matter how hard BMW tries to tell the world that it’s part of the X family of crossovers, the car looks more like a squashed hatchback. Viewing the iX from the sides and the back showcases its nice lines. The width and the long wheelbase contribute to its squat stance, and I like the contrasting black-and-blue trim—blue being the signature color of BMW electric cars.
I specifically mentioned looking at the iX from the sides and the rear because the front of this car is simply polarizing. I was never a fan of it from the press pictures, and the same holds true in real life. The grille is grotesquely and unnecessarily large because there is no piston engine under the hood. For me, the less imposing front end of the X5 would’ve been a better match.
The interior is a significant departure from the BMW cars that I’ve tested. There is a minimalist theme with a floating screen that sports the latest version of the iDrive software. Because the iX doesn’t have a traditional transmission, there is a pass-through between the footwells of the driver and the front passenger. That made the cabin feel bigger than it really is.
Despite being an electric car, the iX drives just as well as any of its maker’s products. The steering has excellent feedback, and weight transfer is kept to a minimum even when you’re cornering quickly. Even though I drove the base xDrive40 variant, there is no shortage of straight-line performance. The acceleration feel in complete silence never gets old, and I had to remind myself that I needed to preserve the remaining battery charge.
Speaking of preserving the charge, here’s the thing. I had envisioned not charging the car once during my four-day test period. I thought I would not need it since I’d be traveling near or within city limits. I got the iX from BMW with 80% charge, which netted a range estimate of 300km. I had clocked almost 200km in mostly city traffic. Theoretically, the car should still have 25% charge when I returned it.
But I ended up charging twice at Uptown Mall in BGC, which I highly recommend as it was the quickest one available. It added 15% to the iX’s battery in just one hour, and it was well worth the parking fee as EVs get priority parking. But the reality of the experience is that I still needed a top-up because I didn’t want the battery meter going down below 20%.
I dreaded the possibility of the iX shutting down on a public road, and the subsequent shame of social media being filled with photos of myself weeping beside a luxury electric car with a dead battery. Everywhere I went, I always felt that I was too far from a suitable charging station, and that I needed to plug the car in at every opportunity I got.
At the time of the test drive, I stayed in a condo, and my parking slot didn’t even have a household outlet nearby where I could hook up the car’s charging cable. I thought that EV ownership should always come with the ability to charge at home in order to ease the stress of range anxiety. In a way, that also shows one of the glaring drawbacks of owning an EV if you live in an apartment.
But if you are still keen on owning an iX, BMW Philippines is offering the car at an introductory price of P6,290,000. The package includes a wall-box charger and basic installation work (provided your home is suitable for one).
My experience also highlighted the human aspect of transitioning to an EV from a gasoline or diesel car. When driving the latter, I feel at ease because filling stations are everywhere. With the iX, I was always looking for ways to stretch the battery’s endurance. I had to teach myself how to drive with the car’s one-pedal mode, which triggered regenerative braking earlier than the normal drive mode.
However, it won’t stop me from owning an electric vehicle. In fact, my wife and I are interested in the Honda e. But that will come once we finally move abroad. I don’t want to live with an EV here in the Philippines, and I feel so sorry for the futuristic BMW iX existing in an environment that is just not ready for it.