2011 Shanghai Auto ShowJust the Facts:
- BMW plans to follow last year's launch of a long-wheelbase 5 Series in China with a new plug-in hybrid variant.
- The so-called "new energy car" will be "our e-car from China for China," says BMW Chairman Norbert Reithofer.
- BMW is opening a new production plant in Shenyang in 2012 and adding local production of the X1.
MUNICH, Germany — BMW plans to follow last year's launch of a long-wheelbase 5 Series in China with a new plug-in hybrid variant at the 2011 Shanghai Auto Show in April.
At the 2010 Beijing Auto Show, the German automaker introduced the stretched 535Li exclusively for the China market. The long-wheelbase 5 Series is being assembled at the BMW-Brilliance plant in Shenyang in Northern China.
The latest variant also will be produced in China, according to BMW boss Norbert Reithofer, who said, "This model will be our e-car from China for China — a long version of the BMW 5 Series as a plug-in hybrid."
BMW displayed its ActiveHybrid 5 prototype a year ago at the 2010 Geneva Auto Show, featuring an updated version of the hybrid gasoline-electric drivetrain that powers the ActiveHybrid 7. At the time, BMW said the system would bundle a straight-6 gasoline engine with a 40kW electric motor and an eight-speed automatic transmission. It offered no specific timetable for production.
Last year's 535Li in Beijing featured a wheelbase that had been stretched by 5.5 inches, with most of the additional room in the rear passenger compartment — a nod to owners who prefer to be chauffeur driven. Amenities included a new "high comfort" rear bench seat, plus such options as rear sun blinds, a folding table in the back of the front passenger seat, rear-seat entertainment and four-zone automatic climate control.
Reithofer this week said BMW is opening a second facility in Shenyang in 2012, and will assemble the X1 there for the China market. The new plant will boost BMW's annual production capacity in China to 150,000 units.
Edmunds.com says: Two interesting ideas — a long-wheelbase 5 Series and a 5 Series plug-in hybrid — will come together first in China. Where else? — Paul Lienert, Correspondent