Friday, February 6, 2009

Detroit Auto Show: BMW 7 Series Hybrid and X6 Hybrid confirmed for 2009 release

BMW’s two hybrid concept vehicles will be ready for series production by the end of the year, according to Ian Robertson, a member of BMW AG’s board of management, speaking to journalists at the Detroit Auto Show. The BMW Concept 7 Series ActiveHybrid and the X6 “sport activity vehicle” will each have different hybrid systems, mild- and full-hybrid respectively.
The BMW Concept 7 Series ActiveHybrid, to use the concept car’s full name, is based on the fifth-generation BMW 7-Series that will be in dealerships in the spring as a 2009 model. That ’09 7-Series is scheduled to use the 5.0-liter direct-injection twin-turbo V-8 first used in the BMW X6, with no other engine scheduled for the U.S. at introduction.

BMW X6 Concept ActiveHybridThe BMW Concept X6 ActiveHybrid is the German carbuilder’s first application of the two-mode hybrid developed with General Motors and Chrysler. The Concept X6 ActiveHybrid is a full hybrid, able to run on battery power or gasoline power, or a combination thereof. The two-mode system is used in the Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid and Chrysler Aspen Hybrid (or was, until its factory was shut down). No numbers were released but BMW says that the Concept X6 ActiveHybrid uses twenty percent less than a similarly-equipped V-8 powered car.
That the hybrid models will be ready for serial production in 2009 which, Robertson told journalists, “means they will probably be available to our customers by the end of the year.”

The BMW Concept 7 Series ActiveHybrid’s lithium-ion battery pack is integrated into the trunk floor and battery charging is supplemented by regenerative braking.
Because a concept has to have some flash, BMW has added aluminum trim to the front end, with fog lamps made up of seven LEDs at either end of the lower air intake. More air guidance elements are added under the rear bumper with special exhaust tips to distinguish it from ordinary BMW 7-Series. Twenty-inch V-spoke light alloy wheels and Blue Water Metallic paint—plus giant graphics—complete the mostly subtle design changes.

The same engine, however, will be coupled with an electric motor fully integrated into the transmission housing in a mild-hybrid arrangement. The electric motor is rated at 20 horsepower but more importantly, 155 lb-ft of torque, providing both more economy and more performance along with reduced emissions. The output of the electric motor is added to that of the 4.4-liter engine’s already prodigious 400 horsepower and 440 lb-ft of torque, increasing performance. However at part throttle the electric motor takes part of the load that would otherwise be handled by the gas engine and that, along with the stop/start feature that’s included, allow fuel savings of 15 percent to be recorded under the EU test cycle.
Robertson stated that luxury and comfort of the 7 Series won’t be compromised. Based on our prior experience with the BMW Hydrogen 7’s wholly transparent transfer from gasoline to hydrogen fuel leads us to believe the ActiveHybrid will be just as smooth.
Illlustrations: Top, Dr. Klaus Draeger discusses the BMW Concept 7 Series ActiveHybrid at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show; bottom, BMW Concept X6 ActiveHybrid. Photos courtesy BMW.


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