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BMW targets 3 Series for next hybrid

Next: BMW's mass-selling 3 Series is in line for the hybrid treatment.

Petrol-electric 3 Series and other models to join expanding BMW ActiveHybrid range

20 May 2010

BMW has confirmed that a hybrid version of its 3 Series and other model lines will join the X6, 7 Series and new 5 Series hybrid as the prestige German manufacturer attempts to reduce carbon emissions of its global fleet by 25 per cent by the end of this decade.

BMW AG chairman Norbert Reithofer broke the news this week at the company’s annual general meeting in Munich, revealing that hybridisation was a “top priority” as it strives to reduce its average CO2 emissions to less than 120 grams per kilometre by 2020.

“As early as next year, the new BMW 5 Series will also be available as a full hybrid – and we are anticipating the hybridisation of further models series, such as the BMW 3 Series,” Dr Reithofer said.

“We also work with modules in this field, choosing the most suitable hybrid solution for the respective model.”

While BMW is continuing to further develop its conventional petrol and diesel engines, Dr Reithofer emphasised the importance of hybrids in the minds of consumers and in key markets, such as Japan, which offer incentives for hybrid vehicles.

“The public perceives hybrid as a sign of eco-friendliness, despite the fact that diesel engines are often much more efficient,” he said.

“In Japan, for instance, the government has adopted a proposal to offer tax credits for hybrid vehicles. This has had a phenomenal effect on the market. Sales of hybrid vehicles have skyrocketed.

“If you don’t have a hybrid in your portfolio, soon you might not be selling any cars in Japan at all.”

BMW unveiled the 5 Series ActiveHybrid at the Geneva motor show in March.

The vehicle adds an electric motor and other hybrid hardware to the twin-turbocharged 225kW/400Nm 3.0-litre straight-six – the petrol engine which powers the new-generation F10-series 535i that has just arrived in Australia and officially goes on sale from June 3.

14 center imageFrom top: BMW 5 Series ActiveHybrid, BMW X6 ActiveHybrid, BMW 7 Series ActiveHybrid.

The ActiveHybrid versions of the 7 Series limousine and X6 coupe-SUV combine a 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol engine with an electric motor, although the 7 Series version is a ‘mild hybrid’ that cannot run on electric power alone.

Like the 5 Series ActiveHybrid, the X6 uses a ‘full-parallel’ (or two-mode) hybrid system that enables full-electric operation under certain conditions.

As GoAuto has reported, right-hand drive versions of BMW’s hybrids are still to be confirmed. The company’s Australian subsidiary will consider adding all hybrid versions to its local range, should RHD production be given the green light.

Dr Reithofer said this week that now ActiveHybrid technology had made the leap into series production, the company would look to broaden its availability.

“Our top priority is the large model series because this is where the savings potential is greatest,” he said.

“Today, our European fleet’s average carbon emissions are 150 grams per kilometre. This corresponds to a fuel consumption of 5.9 litres per 100km.

“A clear statement. These low emission values are achieved despite an average performance of 170hp or 125kW. This is another thing that sets us apart from competitors. Our customers will always experience sheer driving pleasure.

“We want to reduce our global fleet’s carbon emissions by at least another 25 per cent between 2008 and 2020. Our new models and drive technologies will support these efforts.”

BMW’s forthcoming Megacity electric car will play a significant role in achieving this goal.

As GoAuto has reported, the Megacity will be built in Germany and launched as a BMW sub-brand in 2013 – well ahead of the company’s original schedule and some 12 months before an all-new front-wheel drive compact BMW model hits the market and makes a further dent in the company’s average emissions.

In his speech to shareholders, Dr Reithofer made it clear that BMW would continue to invest in Germany as the key production base for its electric vehicles and other areas involving “future-oriented hi-tech”.

He also vowed that the Megacity would be fully sustainable and set new standards in vehicle production, such as through the use of carbon-fibre and other lightweight materials.

“The assignment we have given ourselves from the very beginning is to develop a Megacity vehicle that will be a zero-emission vehicle. And it will be sustainable throughout its entire lifecycle,” he said.

“We aim to set new standards – for example in the field of lightweight construction. We will apply carbon and carbon-reinforced materials at a scope unprecedented in series vehicle production.

“Simply put, we are on the verge of revolutionising vehicle production.”

Dr Reithofer also asserted that BMW was ahead of the pack in tackling future mobility and sustainability.

“I am convinced that a company’s global footprint will gain importance,” he said.

“When it comes to economic success, a company’s social reputation will increasingly become a make-or-break issue. In all these aspects, the BMW Group is leading the way.”

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