Jump to content
Forums Gone... but not forgotten!

Tired of these Ads? Register Today!

  • Welcome to Forever Pontiac

    Welcome to Forever Pontiac, full of great ideas for Pontiac performance, maintenance, or for peer-to-peer assistance from Professional and DIY mechanics. Also, compete in our Pontiac monthly competitions. Please register if you'd like to take part.

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

FeedBot

Car and Driver: At BMW, the Hybrid Future Prevails

Recommended Posts

BMW 330e 3

-

The skeptics within BMW, those that question the merit of electrification and downsizing, and that define rear-wheel drive and straight-six engines as the core of the brand, seem to be losing out. Their cars still exist, but direction initiated by former CEO and current advisory board chief Norbert Reithofer is clear: For the next decade, BMW is expecting massive changes on the global automotive market, and the models will change accordingly.

-

-

BMW 225xe 5

-

BMW has identified two areas of focus: Lowering fuel consumption and emissions—and the digitalization of the driving experience, including car-sharing, “accident-free” driving, new user interfaces, and the car as part of a “digital ecosystem.”

-

The exorbitantly expensive launch of the i sub-brand and the i3 battery-electric vehicle, as well as the i8 plug-in hybrid, were clear signs that BMW is dead serious about tackling the future—as seen by the company’s visionaries. Both models were developed with great autonomy, by teams that took radically new and often costly approaches such as the carbon-fiber structure of the i models that “we would never be able to use for an M model,” as a company executive told us.

-

2015 BMW i3

-

While the i8 is selling at least as well as planned, the i3 is lagging significantly behind the internal projections. But these models are not an end in themselves: They are paving the way for a much larger family of plug-in hybrids that the company needs to meet ever-more-strict emissions targets.

-

BMW’s marketing department has come up with the iPerformance moniker; from July 2016 onwards, every plug-in hybrid will wear this nameplate (with the exception of the i8, which BMW stubbornly calls an “electric”). The models will be differentiated visually, and there will be specific trim packages designed to “transfer the world of BMW i into the iPerformance models in order to allow for an even stronger experience of this sustainable and forward-looking technology.” This approach is a 180-degree turn from the former strategy of keeping the plug-in hybrids as close to their base models as possible, a strategy that BMW defended until recently.

-

2015 BMW i8

-

But there is more to iPerformance than marketing. BMW has initiated a thorough technology transfer from its i models into the plug-in hybrids. Components include electric motors, high-voltage batteries, power electronics, and energy-management systems. They can be found in similar form in the plug-in hybrid versions of the 3-series, the 7-series, the X5, and even the 2-series Active Tourer.

-

In the development of its plug-in hybrids, BMW is following a pragmatic approach. The circumstance that the 330e is a rear-wheel drive car, while the 225xe Active Tourer comes with all-wheel drive, is not merely a result of thorough market analysis. It also makes sense under technological considerations, and especially those pertaining to cost. The E-motor fits into the transmission of the 3-series, complementing its rear-wheel drive powertrain; an add-on all-wheel drive system would have been expensive, and that’s why BMW is doing it only for the 7-series and the X5. On the three-cylinder 225xe Active Tourer, on the other hand, it would have been virtually impossible to turn the front-driver into a plug-in hybrid, and the E-motor on the rear axle is by far the least complicated solution to electrify the car. The fact that it becomes an all-wheel drive car is a welcome side effect.

-

2013 BMW ActiveHybrid 5

-

The former concept of “power hybrids”—that’s how BMW described the high-performance full hybrids with six-cylinder engines—is virtually history; the only model still available is the 5-series Active Hybrid (above). It will be the last with this technological approach; six-cylinder hybrids are finished, and electrification will be based on three- and four-cylinder engines. And there will be mild hybrids with 48-volt batteries, but that’s a technology that will take several years to put into production.

-

So, are the plug-in hybrids as much fun to drive as the classic BMWs? That’s debatable. The 330e is a whopping 350 pounds heavier than the 320i on which it’s based; the 225xe Active Tourer adds similar weight compared to a regular Active Tourer. Both cars feel as heavy as they are, and the boost is never overwhelming. They are in no way autobahn stormers; the 330e actually tops out lower than a 320i.

-

Antrieb BMW 330e

-

Why the rush towards plug-in hybrids? It’s a political decision: European emissions and fuel-consumption regulations are extremely strict, and at the the test cycle favors plug-in hybrids. BMW must make and sell these cars, or it runs the danger of being slapped with exorbitant fines. And instead of being global vehicles, they are made for specific markets: The 330e is a car for Germany, the Netherlands, the UK; the U.S. and Japan are important markets as well. In China, on the other hand, it likely won’t be subsidized. “It’s not worth producing there,” we hear. India is another country with “no market” for the car.

-

BMW is skeptical that EVs will be able to fully replace plug-in hybrids and conventionally powered cars any time soon. “The plug-in hybrid is a transitional technology, but it will be around for a long time,” we’re told. And the prospect for the hydrogen-powered fuel-cell car, on which BMW is working with Toyota, isn’t particularly rosy: “The infrastructure issue is unresolved, and we need to bring cost further down.”

-
--
-

The skeptics may be right on the actual merit of plug-in hybrids, but they have lost the political game. Plug-in hybrids may never be an enthusiast’s dream—but if we want to continue driving cars like the fantastic M2, we need to put up with hybrids for the masses. And the customers need to bite.

-hLGjcGeCoJE

Read Full Article

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tired of these Ads? Register Today!


Tired of these Ads? Purchase Enhanced Membership today to remove them!
×

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.