BMW To Offer 3 Series Hybrid In U.S. Next FallBy Scott Doggett October 19, 2011
Buried in BMW's introduction last week of its highly anticipated sixth-generation 2012 3 Series sedan was the fact that the German automaker will offer its most popular series with an all-new hybrid powertrain starting next fall. The 2012 BMW ActiveHybrid 3, which the carmaker is touting as the world's first hybrid at the premium end of the sports sedan market, will feature a 6-cylinder engine and electric drive that together achieve a claimed 36.7 miles per gallon on the European test cycle. That amounts to a fuel savings 12.5 percent greater than the standard gas-powered 2012 3 Series sedan, the company said.
The announcement comes less than a month after BMW pulled the plug on its ActiveHybrid X6 SUV due to poor sales. The 8-cylinder vehicle, which was introduced to the United States in late 2009, has a base price of nearly $90,000 and gets an EPA-rated 18 miles per gallon combined. That tops 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 -- the same fuel economy of the considerably more-expensive hybrid.
BMW said the powertrain of the ActiveHybrid 3 will be closely tailored to the sporty personality of the 3 Series, which accounts for one of every three vehicles BMW sells. It will feature the 300-horsepower inline 6-cylinder engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology and a hybrid-specific eight-speed automatic transmission with an integrated electric motor. The motor will be able to increase power by up to 55 hp for short periods, BMW said. Maximum combined output is said to be 335 hp, with a maximum combined torque of 330 pound-feet.
BMW ActiveHybrid technology will also allow the vehicle to run solely on electric power for up to two and a half miles, the company said. Top speeds in all-electric mode will range from 37 mph (60 km/h) under load to 100 mph (160 km/h) while coasting. When the driver applies more throttle, the internal combustion engine will engage automatically, then disengage while coasting. During coasting and braking, the electric motor will act as a generator, converting kinetic energy into electrical energy, which will be used to charge the battery. This is the same principle as the Brake Energy Regeneration function on the regular models, although on the BMW ActiveHybrid 3 the amount of energy recuperated by the electric motor is many times greater.