BMW unveils next-gen plug-in hybrid
Intent on leveraging its investment in the ultra-clean eDrive technology used in the current BMW i3 and i8, the automaker announced it latest iteration of the Efficient Dynamics strategy: a plug-in hybrid system for all of the firm's "core-brand" models on a global basis. Demonstrated in a 3 Series Sedan during an event in Miramas, France, BMW's new plug-in combines a 4-cylinder TwinPower Turbo gasoline engine with an electric motor and control system from the existing eDrive hardware/software.
Located aft of the engine and incorporated into the 8-speed Steptronic automatic that sends power to the rear wheels, the motor in the 3 Series plug-in prototype is energized by a lithium-ion battery pack mounted below the trunk floor. It can be replenished by built-in on-the-fly energy recovery systems as well as conventional plug-in methods, allowing the car to travel about 22 miles in pure EV mode and reach a top speed of 74.5 mph. With a total system output of roughly 245 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, it has about the same performance as a conventional production model. Like the standard 3 Series, the plug-in model features a tri-mode - Comfort/Sport/Eco Pro - Driving Experience Control switch. It also boasts several unique dedicated variations on BMW's Proactive Driving Assistant setup that's integrated into the navigation system and further optimizes overall energy management to extend the EV range.
According to BMW, its plug-in hybrids will rely on the Power eDrive electric system to deliver about two thirds of the total motive force with the remaining third coming from the gasoline engine. The systems can be scaled to develop in excess of 670 total horsepower and with battery packs of up to 20kWh capacity, EV range can be extended to approximately 62 miles. It demonstrated this more potent variation on the theme in an experimental 5 Series GT. While the first of BMW's new plug-in hybrids is expected to roll into European and Asian showrooms by the end of the decade, there's still no word on when we might see them here in the U.S.
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