BMW Discontinues ActiveHybrid X6 SUV

By Danny King September 21, 2011

BMW ActiveHybrid X6 Killed.jpg

BMW is discontinuing sales of its ActivHybrid X6 hybrid SUV. BMW is the second high-end German automaker this year to decide against a continuing a hybrid option for one of its SUVs after failing to find much of a market stateside. BMW spokesman Dave Buchko confirmed to AutoObserver that the ActiveHybrid X6 (above) won't be sold in the U.S. for the 2012 model year. The gas-electric SUV featured a so-called two-mode hybrid system developed in cooperation with General Motors and Daimler several years ago and also used in GM’s poor-selling pickup and large SUV hybrids.

The expensive system (below) uses two electric motors and both fixed and variable gear ratios that in theory help boost fuel economy both in stop-start mode and with highway driving. The ActiveHybrid X6 paired the two electric motors with a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8, giving the crossover 485 horsepower and 575 lb-ft of torque and propelling the nearly 5,800-pound vehicle from 0-60 miles per hour in less than six seconds. But the vehicle, which was introduced to the U.S. in late 2009, had a base price of almost $90,000 and got an EPA-rated 18 miles per gallon combined.

That’s almost 19 percent better than the 16 mpg combined rating of the comparable turbo V8 model of the 2011 model-year SUV. But the gas-only V8 model started at $68,600 while a more-efficient turbo 6-cylinder version of the X6 started at $10,000 less than that and delivered 18 mpg combined fuel economy -- just one mile per gallon less than the considerably more-expensive hybrid. As a result, the hybrid model never caught on. BMW sold just 39 ActiveHybrid X6s in the U.S. during the first eight months of this year, or about 1 percent of the 3,820 X6s sold in total.

BMW ActiveHybrid X6 Killed internals.jpgTough Sell
"The 2011 BMW ActiveHybrid X6 has little to show for its hybrid powertrain and suffers from a big price tag besides," Edmunds.com wrote in its ActiveHybrid X6 review. "Add the drawbacks of limited cargo utility and restricted rear seat space from the X6 package and you've got a BMW we can't recommend." By discontinuing the ActiveHybrid X6, BMW continues to direct its vehicle-electrification efforts towards its smaller vehicles. The automaker, which in February launched its new "i" sub brand specifically for electric-drive cars, will start leasing its ActivE 1-Series battery-electric vehicle to U.S. customers this fall. The ActivE is the successor to the Mini-E, the all-electric version of the BMW sub brand vehicles that were first leased to U.S. customers in 2008, and the precursor to the i3, which was previously known as the Megacity. The i3 and i8 plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles will be the first models launched by BMW's "i" sub brand in 2013.

Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz, which also used the two-mode hybrid system for its ML450 Hybrid SUV, stopped production of the hybrid in the 2011 model year and won't include a hybrid option for the launch of the new version of the M-Class next year, said Mercedes-Benz spokesman Geoff Day. Mercedes will offer V6 and diesel versions of the M-Class for the 2012 model year, and Day told AutoObserver than a new hybrid system for the SUV "is more than likely” in the future “as we move to provide the ideal engine option for all driving needs and styles.”

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