Due to make its formal debut at the upcoming Paris Auto Salon, BMW's 7 Series ActiveHybrid Concept is the precursor to a production 7 Series that will launch in the U.S. sometime in 2009. Based on a standard 750i sedan, this "mild-hybrid" is the Bavarian automaker's response to the previously announced Mercedes-Benz S400 BlueHYBRID that's due to hit the European market next June and goes on sale here in the fall.
Although BMW is saving a few pertinent details regarding the 7 Series ActiveHybrid for Paris, it did provide a host of insights about key basics that also will be shared with future series-built cars. Motivation comes from a 407-horsepower 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 that makes 442 lb.-ft. of torque teamed with a 20 horsepower electric motor positioned behind the engine and inside the bellhousing of the car's specially adapted eight-speed automatic transmission. Powered by a Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery pack located in the trunk area, this high-efficiency AC motor/generator also develops 155 lb.-ft. of peak torque to deliver even stouter off-the-line performance. The ActiveHybrid system incorporates start/stop circuitry that prevents wasting fuel under idling conditions and uses an optimized form of Brake Energy Regeneration to recharge its battery pack on the fly. BMW claims this setup will generate fuel economy gains of 15 percent compared to a standard 750i model.
The automaker plans to introduce two hybrid models to the American market next year. While no specific on sale date has been given for either, BMW has confirmed that its gasoline-electric X6 variant, which is a true "dual-mode" hybrid, will arrive in dealerships prior to the mild-hybrid 7 Series.