The name BMW is synonymous with words such as luxurious, exclusive and expensive, but BMW and hybrid car are words that are not normally heard together. BMW has been absent from the recent surge of hybrid cars released to the auto market. For consumers who want fuel-efficiency, the auto maker offers a couple of diesel vehicles (the 335d sedan and X5 xDrive35d), but nothing in the way of a hybrid.
In August 2009, BMW announced that its first two hybrids will be released for model year 2010. The BMW ActiveHybrid X6, based on the X6 Sports Activity Coupe, will feature a 4.4-liter, twin-turbo, 8-cylinder gasoline engine combined with 2 electric motors that are powered by a nickel-metal hydride battery.
Combined, it produces a total of 480 horsepower and 575 pound-feet of torque. In pure BMW style, the ActiveHybrid X6 is the most powerful hybrid vehicle ever produced. It will also employ a 7-speed automatic transmission and come standard with BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive system. It will be able to run on only the electric motors up to speeds of 37 miles per hour and a maximum distance of 1.6 miles. BMW estimates a 20% improvement in mileage as compared to the non-hybrid X6. With plans to officially debut the vehicle at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, it should be at BMW dealerships sometime in the 4th quarter of 2009.
Additionally, BMW will also release a hybrid version of the 7-Series sedan, called the ActiveHybrid 7. Different from the ActiveHybrid X6, the ActiveHybrid 7 will feature one electric motor that is powered by a lithium-ion battery. Paired with the same 4.4-liter, twin-turbo, 8-cylinder gasoline engine, it is estimated to have a total of 455 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. The ActiveHybrid 7 will employ an 8-speed automatic transmission, and provide an estimated 15% improvement in mileage as compared to the non-hybrid 750i. BMW will also officially debut this vehicle at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show.
While these hybrids certainly don't deliver the sort of EPA-estimated mileage that other hybrids do, they also aim for a completely different segment of hybrid shoppers. Consumers who buy a BMW look for luxury, exclusivity and high prices in their cars. With the release of these two vehicles, they can also add hybrid technology to the list.