According to Marco Möller, product manager of the BMW X5 with eDrive at the international press drive of the BMW X5 xDrive40e, BMW is moving away from the ActiveHybrid performance oriented hybrids, and BMW says that they want less performance oriented hybrids, and will instead by using downsized engines that balances power and efficiency, coupled to more powerful electric motors derived from BMW’s “i” sub-brand, to deliver a usable all-electric range and better fuel efficiency figures.
With the launch of the BMW’s first plug-in hybrid variant of their core model, the X5 xDrive40e, the company will be shifting focus onto plug-in hybrids as seen with the 740Le and 330e.
The X5 xDrive40e comes with a charging plug that allows the batteries to be charged from the mains. Fully charged, the batteries are able to provide the plug-in hybrid SUV an all-electric range of 31km, whereas its 83kW electric motor is able to propel the SUV up to 120km/h on its own. This combination of electric range and a downsized engine allows the X5 xDrive40e to boast an NEDC rated fuel consumption figure of as low as 3.3L/100km.
Florian Mume of powertrain research and development further adds that the shift towards plug-in hybrid is largely thanks in part to the improvement of battery technology as batteries are increasing in power density, thus reducing the dependency of the traditional internal combustion engine.
“We have learnt a lot about electric mobility from the ActiveHybrid series, and field trials of the all-electric MINI E and 1 Series ActiveE,” said Mume. “Thanks to the feedback from our fleet testing we were able to ascertain driver behaviour to further optimise our plug-in hybrid drivetrain.”
The ActiveHybrid series first began in 2009 with the debut of the ActiveHybrid7 and X6 ActiveHybrid. Both cars were powered by large twin-turbo V8s with electric motors that provided a significant amount of torque and motor assist, but with very limited or no all-electric range.
The ActiveHybrid line-up was further expanded with the ActiveHybrid5 in 2012 with a smaller 3-litre turbocharged inline-6 engine and better all-electric range. The ActiveHybrid series was perfected with the ActiveHybrid3 that same year with a similar powertrain, but less compromised in rear luggage space as the chassis was designed from the start to account for a battery pack.
Neither the ActiveHybrid7 nor the ActiveHybrid3 are mentioned in the variant line-up of the new 7-series and facelift 3-series range, instead the 740Le and 330e plug-in hybrid variants takes their respective places.