BMW’s current fleet of vehicles has a number of green models available – but the company wants to push efficient cars further to the forefront of its model line-up and has developed a range of systems to help support it.
With the recent launches of the BMW 330e and 225xe plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models, the German giant now has a number of plug-in options spread across a variety of different market sectors. The X5 40e SUV has already been launched this year and the 740e PHEV is due too, giving BMW four PHEV models in its line-up in 2016 alone.
Add to that the i3 EV, i3 REX and i8 PHEV and BMW has a number of options available for those looking at plug-in models – compact citycars, a family MPV, a compact executive saloon, large SUV, luxury saloon and supercar.
BMW has also confirmed that it is continuing to work on hydrogen fuel cell (HFV) technology, to create a combination of set-ups – pure electric for short, regular journeys, and HFV for longer runs.
The new BMWs X5 xDrive 40e, 330e, 225xe, and 740e models are the first products to benefit from the research and development carried out by BMW’s iCars division. The i3 and i8 remain at the cutting edge of BMW’s efficiency programmes, but the lessons learnt from those models is already being filtered down to the next generation of ‘standard’ models.
BMW has announced that these PHEV variants will be grouped together under the banner of iPerformance – set to be launched at the Geneva Motor Show alongside the plug-in 7-Series. This brand is intended to indicate to customers the plug-in electric systems under the skin, and increased use of carbon fibre in some cases, despite the cars looking relatively normal, and not as futuristic as the i3 and i8.
BMW is no stranger to electrification. The company put the world on notice with the launch of its innovative i sub-brand. But the lessons learned from the i3 and i8 aren’t limited to these small-volume cars. The more mainstream X5 xDrive40e impresses with lessons learned from i, all without compromising the SUV’s character.
The combination of a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine with an electric motor is good for 308 overall horsepower and 302 pound-feet of torque. Sure, 240 hp and 260 lb-ft come from the four-cylinder engine alone, but the electric motor – integrated within the ZF eight-speed automatic transmission’s housing – chips in a maximum of 111 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque. The 9.2-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery can sock away enough electricity to drive up to 14 miles on a single charge and will recharge at your average 110-volt socket in about seven hours.
Of course, the battery pack and electric motor are a big weight penalty. At 5,220 pounds, the xDrive40e is 430 pounds heavier than the standard xDrive35i. Still, the gas-electric powertrain hustles this husky X5 40e to 60 miles per hour in just 6.5 seconds, less than half a second slower than the 35i. The stopwatch figures are complemented by the best fuel economy of any gas-powered X5, at 56 miles per gallon equivalent and 24 mpg combined. Only the diesel X5 xDrive35d is more efficient, at 27 mpg. But achieving top fuel economy in the 40e isn’t as simple as going easy on the throttle. Perhaps more than any vehicle we’ve tested recently, understanding how all the X5’s systems work together is crucial to eking out the most mpgs.
Last year marked a big breakthrough for electric cars; the majority of major manufacturers invested heavily in developing electric drive-trains and subsequently added an array of appealing battery-electric (BEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models to their rosters.
By the end of 2014 there were over 17,000 plug-in cars and vans on UK roads with that number expected to more than double by the end of this year.
As noted by Dr Ben Lane, Managing Editor of Next Green Car: “2015 will see a continuing roll out of battery electric and plug-in hybrid models as UK motorists become more accustomed to electric drive-trains. This year will be the year when EVs start to considered as ‘normal’.”
The future is only looking bright for electric mobility and there a number of exciting EV prospects expected to feature prominently this year. Below is Zap-Map’s list of top 10 electric vehicles coming soon in 2015:
1. Tesla Model X – BEV
Originally scheduled for 2013, Tesla recently announced that the eagerly anticipated Model X crossover will be launched in the third quarter of 2015. Despite being larger than the Model S, the all-wheel electric drive will give the Model X a similar level of performance (that’s 0 to 60 mph in around 5.9 seconds!). With 10% additional weight, the expected driving range will be slightly less; around 170 miles for the 60 kWh battery pack or 230 miles for 85 kWh battery. One the striking features of the next Tesla will be its rear ‘Falcon’ doors which open upwards instead of swinging outward. Final pricing has yet to be announced. Although it’s been a while coming, with the new Model X, Tesla is unlikely to disappoint.
2. Volkswagen twin-up! – PHEV
The twin-up!’s 55kW powertrain consists of a 0.8 litre TDI diesel engine working in conjunction with a 35kW electric motor. The energy storage system includes a lithium-ion battery (energy capacity: 8.6 kWh), a conventional 12V battery for on-board electrics, and a 33 litre capacity fuel tank. On the official test cycle, the twin-up! delivers a combined fuel economy of over 250 MPG with a CO2 emissions of just 27 g/km. In zero-emission operation the PHEV can cover a range of 31 miles and is anything but a slouch: the twin-up! accelerates up to 62 mph in 15.7 seconds and has an all-electric top speed of 80 mph. Pricing to be announced.
3. Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive – BEV
The Mercedes-Tesla relationship is evident (and welcome) in the B-Class ED with the drive-train and battery pack coming from the California-based company. Capable of 125 miles per full charge, the B-Class ED provides electric motoring in a quality package with more reserved styling than some other brands such as the BMWi range. While the motors can deliver up to 179 bhp (Sport mode), two other driving modes are available: ‘Economy’, where power is limited to 131 bhp; and ‘Economy Plus’ with just 87 bhp and a maximum speed of 70 mph. Expected to be priced from around £27,000.
4. Volvo XC90 plug-in hybrid – PHEV
No doubt encouraged by the huge success of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Volvo will bring its own plug-in SUV to market in 2015, in addition to the usual range of petrol and diesel engines. While all will offer four-wheel drive, for the first time there will also be a front-wheel drive option. The XC90 PHEV will also feature a collection of entertainment and safety technology including a 9.3 inch screen compatible with Apple’s new CarPlay interface and Volvo’s new collision avoidance system. The XC90 range is priced from £45,750.
5. Volkswagen Passat GTE plug-in hybrid – PHEV
Now in its eighth incarnation, the new Passat range includes the GTE, the first Passat with a plug-in hybrid drive. Powered by a turbocharged direct injection petrol engine (TSI) and an 85kW electric motor, the GTE is capable (on the official test) of over 141 MPG (petrol) and 13.0 kWh/100km (electric) with CO2 emission of under 45 g/km. On a full tank and fully recharged 9.9 kWh lithium-ion battery, the new PHEV has a total driving range of over 620 miles. In ‘E-Mode’, the Passat GTE can also cover a distance of up to 31 miles with zero emissions. AC charging options include standard (or ‘slow’) charging at 2.3 kW from a domestic socket in 4.25 hours or an optional a home 3.6 kW charger which provides a full charge in 2.5 hours. Anticipated pricing from around £20,000.
6. BMW X5 e-drive – PHEV
The BMW X5 e-drive concept was first unveiled at the 2013 Frankfurt International Motor Show and is seen as the logical next step for the successful X5 series. Combining a four-cylinder combustion engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology and lithium-ion battery, the plug-in hybrid can driver approximately 19 miles solely on electric power. There is a choice of three driving modes, depending on requirements and situation – the intelligent hybrid drive option for a balance between sportiness and efficiency; pure electric and therefore emission-free driving; or Safe Battery mode to maintain the current battery charge. According to BMW, the X5 e-drive is capable of 74.3 mpg and on average emits 90g of CO2 per kilometre. Estimated to be priced at £55,000 – £60,000, the X5 e-drive is on course to directly compete with the Volvo XC90 PHEV.
7. Renault Zoe 2015 (new battery) – BEV
Renault’s battery-electric Zoe, the second best-selling EV after the Nissan LEAF, will be revitalised by a smaller and more efficient electric motor in 2015. By reducing the motors size, Renault expects a 10% increase in the Renault Zoe’s official 130 mile range. Renault also claims the improvements will reduce charging time by 20-30 minutes when using low-level power supply such as a 3kW 3-pin slow charging unit. The upgrades to the Zoe will be added to all new models from Spring 2015 Renault say.
8. Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV S – PHEV
Following on from the successful Outlander PHEV launch in 2014, Mitsubishi plans to release the Outlander PHEV-S. Power for the Outlander PHEV-S is expected to come from the same four-cylinder 2.0-litre petrol and twin electric motor system that drives the original car. This will see up to 204bhp sent to all four wheels, resulting in a 0-62mph time of 11 seconds and a 106mph top speed, whilst offering 148mpg and emissions as low as 44g/km CO2. The main difference will be in appearance, offering a refined interior and exterior design that will magnify the Outlander PHEV’s unique driving experience. Pricing to be announced.
9. Audi Q7 Quattro plug-in hybrid – PHEV
The Audi Q7 e-tron quattro, which will be launched soon after its conventionally powered counterparts in the spring, is the first plug in hybrid from Audi with a diesel engine. It is also the world’s first diesel PHEV with quattro all-wheel drive in the premium SUV segment. It returns the equivalent of up to 166.1mpg, which corresponds to less than 50 grams of CO2 per kilometre and can travel just under 35 miles on battery-electric power alone. Pricing to be announced.
10. Peugeot Quartz – PHEV
The Quartz plug-in hybrid concept mixes elements of a crossover vehicle and a saloon, to bring a new take on the SUV segment. It uses a plug-in hybrid drive train comprising of a 1.6-litre petrol engine supplemented by two 85kW electric motors, driving each axle. When the vehicle is in ZEV mode, it utilises the electric motor only and can cover up to 31 miles on a single battery charge. Peugeot have estimated the vehicle will not reach production until 2016; it will be interesting to see if the striking design mellows between now and then.
Munich/Miramas. The BMW Group is preparing to follow up its innovative and revolutionary BMW i models with plug-in hybrid versions of the core-brand models. In Miramas, France, it will present a BMW 3 Series plug-in hybrid prototype and a new generation of hybrid vehicle concepts incorporating technology already used in BMW i models. Long term, the BMW Group is planning to offer plug-in hybrid versions of all its core-brand models.
Herbert Diess, Member of the Board of Management BMW AG, Development, said:
“All BMW Group models benefit from BMW i. The fundamental technology involved in battery cells, electric motors and the power electronics will be used in our upcoming plug-in hybrid models. When it comes to the electrification of the drivetrain, we are deliberately developing a wide-ranging expertise in order to offer our customers worldwide the ideal solution.”
The plug-in hybrid models presented in Miramas are equipped with a highly efficient internal combustion engine and an electric motor powered by an externally rechargeable high-voltage battery. Shorter-distance urban trips or commutes can be completed on electric power only. On longer journeys, the vehicle will usually operate in “combined mode”, with both systems working together.
TheBMW 3 Series plug-in hybrid prototype combines a four-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor. The internal combustion engine is based on the TwinPower Turbo four-cylinder petrol engine that has already twice been voted “International Engine of the Year”.
The electric motor and power electronics are directly based on the BMW eDrive technology already used in the BMW i3 and BMW i8 models. The prototype’s lithium-ion battery, including the battery management system and the high-efficiency direct cooling system, are likewise based on BMW i experience and know-how.
The plug-in hybrid technology is so flexible that it can be integrated in a wide variety of vehicle concepts. It will therefore be possible to deploy it rapidly across the BMW model range. The route to sustainable mobility in the future will be a multitrack one. The already efficient combustion engines will be even more economical. All-electric vehicles like the BMW i3 are tailored to urban mobility requirements while plug-in hybrids are more appropriate for longer-distance journeys. Beyond this, in the long term electric mobility in conjunction with hydrogen fuel cell technology could also be a viable option.
The focus of our Efficient Dynamics strategy is the electrification of the power train. This is an area in which we will continue to expand in the coming years. The plug-in technology will be one key lever to bring high performance vehicles well below 100 g / km CO2, while retaining the driving pleasure and driving dynamics of a BMW. We will also continue to develop fully electric mobility. Hydrogen fuel-cells will remain a key issue when it comes to drivetrain development, especially relating to its sustainable production.
Key eDrive technologies developed in-house
All the important eDrive technologies and components are developed in-house, and from next year they will all be built at the BMW plant in Dingolfing. This programme is set to create over 200 new jobs around electro-mobility at the BMW plant in Dingolfing. Many tens of millions of euros will be invested at this plant over the next five years.
Harald Krüger, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Production stated:
“Our accumulated expertise guarantees us a competitive edge, this can be seen not only in the performance data of the BMW electric motors but also in our highly efficient production process.”
Since the BMW Group expects to be building a wide range of electric drive components in the future, production will be organised around an intelligent eDrive component-sharing system. This means that one and the same production line will be able to build high-voltage battery modules not just for the BMW i8 but also for the future BMW X5 eDrive. In the case of complete battery packs, too, the new production lines will be designed for a flexible production mix: it will be possible to build battery packs for a number of different future models all on the same lines.
Highly electrified hybrids
With the ongoing development and refinement of hybrid drive systems under the EfficientDynamics programme, the aim is to maximise the amount of time the vehicles are able to spend in electric mode. To ensure that this increased electric operation goes hand in hand with typical BMW dynamic performance, everyday practicality and maximum long-distance capability, the BMW Group’s future hybrids will be “highly electrified”. Highlights of this future Power eDrive technology will include much more powerful electric motors and batteries with twice the capacity of present versions.
The drive systems used in these future hybrid systems will offer combined outputs in excess of 500 kW. Also, the capacity of the lithium-ion batteries – up to 20 kilowatt hours – will be greatly in excess of current hybrid systems. Coupled with an increased all-electric driving range of up to 100 kilometres (62 miles), this will make it possible to operate in locally emission-free pure-electric mode on virtually all day-to-day trips.
BMW’s “green fleet” was represented at the 2014 Paris Motor Show not only by the BMW i3 and i8, but also by the BMW X5 eDrive Hybrid. With just a few months before its market debut, the plug-in hybrid X5 continues its auto show circuit and lands in Paris.
The X5 xDrive40e is the first hybrid X5 to be offered and it was previewed last year at the Frankfurt Auto Show.
The plugin hybrid will featured a four-cylinder petrol engine with turbocharging technology which generates, along with an electric motor, an output of 200 kW (272 hp). The standard sprint to 100 km/h is achieved by the BMW X5 xDrive40e in less than 7.0 seconds. Up to 120 km/h of pure electric drive is possible thanks to the 70 kW electric motor.
The seamless transition between electric, combined electric-petrol and pure petrol is remarkably smooth.
Visually, the plugin hybrid differs from the “regular X5″ mainly through an additional opening at the front left fender where the engineers placed a power connector for charging the high-voltage battery, which is housed in the rear of the vehicle.
To manage battery capacity BMW has created three drive modes for the X5 eDrive, Intelligent Hybrid, Pure Electric, and Save Battery. It is the Save Battery mode that highlights how BMW expects the vehicle to be used. Going into Save Battery mode restricts the use of battery capacity – allowing for a reserve to complete a journey in pure electric mode inside a city core for example.
Following the successful launch of the ‘i’ sub-brand, BMW is now expanding production capabilities in anticipation of electrifying its conventional fleet of vehicles.
Two new production lines building electric motors and the lithium-ion battery packs that supply them with energy have been commissioned for the German carmaker’s Dingolfing plant. More than 200 additional staff are expected to operate the lines, which are said to cost “a high double-digit million euro amount” over the next five years.
It’s an essential expense for BMW, which has plans to offer plug-in hybrid versions of models ranging from the 7 Series limousine to the X5 SUV to the humble 3 Series, its best-selling car. The company has expertise in building electric hardware for the i3 and i8 in-house; the next step is to integrate the technology in its high-volume vehicles.
The technology will arrive under the ‘eDrive’ banner, with electric motors mated to highly efficient turbocharged gasoline engines, delviering outstanding overall fuel economy and the ability to travel reasonable distances solely using electric power. BMW’s incipient plug-in hybrids are also likely to be fast, developing in excess of 250 hp from their two power sources.
While the BMW i8 supercar (review) was BMW’s first plug-in hybrid, at $136,000 it is exclusive. Standard ‘eDrive’ plug-in hybrids will be more affordable, and although a slight premium is expected, they will broadly match gasoline-only models in price. Hardware for both the ‘i’ and ‘eDrive’ models will be built on the same lines, with the X5 eDrive the first of the new breed to arrive in 2015.
BMW is well placed to capitalize from consumers who are increasingly aware of the benefits of plug-in hybrid technology and are already loyal to the brand. It will, however, face competition from Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo, all of whom are preparing for widespread electrification of the their model lines.