Is BMW planning an ActiveHybrid X5 model for the next-generation X5 crossover, due to launch this fall as a 2014 model?

That's what it appears from one reader's sighting of a camouflaged prototype in San Francisco.

Yesterday, Alister Oliver wrote:

I'm currently at Hawk Hill in San Francisco overlooking the Golden Gate [and] this pulled up.

On its side were stickers stating Hybrid Test Vehicle. I only got a couple of pics, as the test engineers were clearly not very happy [with] me taking pics.

They also had a current 7 Series with them that had a very visible plug-in outlet on its side.

Regrettably, Oliver's photos don't show the hybrid stickers on the side, and he wasn't able to photograph the plug-in 7-Series either.

But it stands to reason that BMW would add a hybrid model to the next X5 lineup.

The Audi Q5 Hybrid has been on the market for a year now, the 2014 Infiniti QX60 Hybrid was unveiled this spring, and Lexus really defined the field when it launched the hybrid version of its RX crossover several years ago.

Shared hybrid powertrain

While few details are known about the future ActiveHybrid X5, it's likely to use the same powertrain fitted to the updated hybrid 7-Series, after having launched in the hybrid 5-Series and the hybrid 3-Series sedans unveiled in 2011.

It comprises a 315-hp 3.0-liter twin-scroll turbocharged straight six, with a 40-kilowatt (55-hp) electric motor sandwiched between the engine and a modified version of BMW's eight-speed automatic transmission.

This year's ActiveHybrid 5 sedan is EPA-rated at a combined 26 mpg, which is actually lower than the 28-mpg combined rating for the 2.0-liter four-cylinder BMW 528i model (which has trunk space of 14 cubic feet, against the 10 cu ft of the hybrid 5-Series).

Prototype 2015 BMW ActiveHybrid X5 in San Francisco, July 2013 [photo: Alister Oliver]

Prototype 2015 BMW ActiveHybrid X5 in San Francisco, July 2013 [photo: Alister Oliver]

The hybrid 5-Series sedan also has a base price of $61,400, or roughly $13,600 more than the entry-level four-cylinder model.

In other words, the ActiveHybrid X5 may not be all that fuel-efficient--but it's likely to cost a lot.

Plug-in 7-Series

As for the other vehicle seen by Oliver, a plug-in hybrid 7-Series is almost certain to be introduced as one model in the next-generation 7-Series large sedan, coming for 2016.

It will compete head-to-head with the plug-in hybrid version of the new 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan, which will likely be a 2015 model and will be unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September.

But to travel 15 or 20 miles or so solely on electric power (at city speeds)--to qualify it as a zero-emission vehicle in that mode--it will likely need a far more powerful electric motor than the 40-kW version fitted to the current lineup of BMW hybrids.

We'd expect the third-generation BMW hybrid system to offer at least 100 kW (134 hp), perhaps more, for electric-only travel.

We'll provide more details when we have them. Meanwhile, our thanks to Alister Oliver.

Oliver's photography can both be seen both on Facebook and on the website for Alister Photography.


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