BMW and Brilliance 5-Series plug-in hybrid prototype

BMW and Brilliance 5-Series plug-in hybrid prototype

BMW has taken the wraps off a new plug-in hybrid prototype based on its long-wheelbase 5-Series sedan, which it will be showcasing in just a few weeks at the 2011 Shanghai Auto Show. Built in collaboration with its Chinese alliance partner Brilliance Auto, development of the new prototype is the first major stage of what BMW describes as the creation of a “new energy vehicle” for China.

Under the sheet metal of the fairly conventional looking 5-Series sedan is an advanced parallel hybrid system consisting of a fuel efficient gasoline engine matched to an electric motor, the latter powered by a battery pack stored in the trunk.

These batteries--of unknown type--can be plugged into an ordinary household power outlet and charged overnight. Once at full charge they are powerful enough to allow the vehicle to drive on electric power alone, emission free, for up to 64 miles at a constant speed of 37 mph (BMW claims this is a typical drive scenario in China).

Once power starts to dip, or if additional performance is needed, the vehicle’s gasoline engine kicks in and can provide a minimum additional range of 250 miles. In keeping with its green theme, the engine too comes with fuel saving ‘TwinPower Turbo’ technology, which is essentially the combination of a twin-scroll turbocharger, direct injection and variable valve timing.

The gasoline engine is rated at 250 horsepower, while the electric motor gets a 70 kW (95 horsepower) rating. Like all full hybrids, the motor also acts as a generator to recharge the battery via regenerative braking.

BMW has confirmed that production of a plug-in hybrid 5-Series will commence in 2013, although the automaker has only mentioned the Chinese market for now. We don't expect this particular version to be sold in the U.S., but a variant of the technology might be, perhaps in the production version of the ActiveHybrid 5 due next year or a rumored 3-Series hybrid.

The ActiveHybrid 5 will use a radical evolution of the mild-hybrid system already on sale in the 2010 ActiveHybrid 7 full-size sedan. In the new model, a lithium-ion battery pack (of unspecified capacity) near the rear axle powers a 40 kW (54 horsepower) electric motor mounted between its gasoline engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The ActiveHybrid 5 will be able to run on electricity alone, just as the Toyota Prius and other hybrids do. In most driving, however, the motor will just add torque to assist the gasoline engine. For more information, click here.

The 2011 Shanghai Auto Show doesn’t kick off until April 19, so stay tuned for an update.

[BMW via MotorAuthority]


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