2009 LA Auto Show: 2011 BMW ActiveHybrid 7

By Editors on December 7, 2009 6:11 AM

Journeying over from their debut outings in Frankfurt, BMW's forthcoming ActiveHybrid X6 and the futuristic Vision Efficient Dynamics Concept were joined by the equally new ActiveHybrid 7 which goes on sale here in late spring. Like the standard 750i sedan, the ActiveHybrid X6 and ActiveHybrid 7 share a version of BMW's 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged/directed injected V8. Unlike the ActiveHybrid X6, which is a true "two-mode" hybrid that uses a pair of electric motors that can either supplement the engine output or propel it in pure EV mode, the ActiveHybrid 7 is a "mild" design that can't operate on electric power alone.

The ActiveHybrid 7's engine -- which makes 440-horsepower in this application compared to 407 in the ActiveHybrid X6 -- is abetted by a single, motor/generator unit and energized by a far more compact high-voltage Lithium-ion (Li-on) battery rather than the nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) pack in its X6 counterpart. Attached to the crankshaft, this 15-horsepower three-phase synchronous e-booster also adds an extra 35 lb.-ft. of torque to the engine's already greater 480 lb.-ft. output. Weighing just 59.5 pounds, the 120V Li-ion battery pack -- which also supplies power for the four-zone air conditioning and engine starting -- resides beneath the trunk floor and takes up less that one cubic foot of space. Other key elements in the ActiveHybrid 7 drivetrain include an eight-speed automatic transmission and stouter rear differential with a revised axle ratio. Collectively they allow it to sprint from 0-60 mph in 4.7 seconds, half a tick less than a standard 750i model, while delivering about 17 percent better fuel economy.

Like most hybrids, this new eco-oriented 7 Series incorporates regenerative braking circuitry that recharges both the 120V Li-ion pack as well as a conventional 12V battery used to operate the other on-board systems. It also features an efficiency enhancing auto stop-start function that automatically switches off the engine at idle and then instantaneously restarts it when driver's foot lifts off the brake pedal, both transitions coming in a virtually imperceptible manner. While our modest test drive around the fairly congested L.A. Show confines precluded any real max-effort runs, a few abbreviated bursts confirmed the new ActiveHybrid 7 is one seriously quick sedan that responds immediately and effortlessly when the accelerator is floored and should have little problem reaching its electronically-limited top speed of 150 mph.

In addition to unique hybrid-related information displays, special badges, and a model-exclusive Bluewater Metallic paint, BMW has packaged the new ActiveHybrid 7 with plenty of traditional luxury, including an Alcantara headliner, leather dashboard and ventilated active front seats, Premium Sound System, Head-up Display, Rear View Camera, Comfort Access, soft-close doors and automatic trunkgate closing. In addition to a comprehensive roster of vehicle dynamic assists, lightweight 19-inch "Aero" alloy wheels and run-flat tires also are part of its long list of standards while key extras include BMW's Camera Package, Driver Assistance Package, Night Vision, and a Rear Seat Entertainment Package. Pricing for the standard-wheelbase ActiveHybrid 7 will start at $103,125 while the long-wheelbase ActiveHybrid 7L is set to open at $107,025.

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