BMW has given the automotive world a sneak peek at its upcoming 3 Series plug-in hybrid sedan with an ultra-efficient prototype model that previews next year’s production car.
It achieves these frugal claims by combining a 132kW/320Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with a 70kW/250Nm electric motor mounted in an eight-speed automatic transmission that drives the rear wheels, and a lithium-ion battery for a total hybrid system output of 183kW and 400Nm. The system is similar to that used by the BMW X5 eDrive concept, which first appeared at last year’s Frankfurt motor show.
BMW claims the 3 Series plug-in hybrid has a pure electric range of approximately 35km, and can operate without any assistance from the petrol engine at speeds up to 120km/h.
The car maker says there’s only a small reduction in the plug-in hybrid’s boot space compared with the regular sedan, as the sixth-generation model was originally developed to accommodate extra electric hardware.
As with regular BMW production models, the 3 Series plug-in hybrid prototype features a Drive Experience Control switch with selectable Comfort, Sport, and Eco Pro modes, while it also gets a plug-in-specific toggle for switching between all-electric Max eDrive mode and Save mode, which keeps the battery at a constant state of charge, reserving it for use in urban sections of the drive.
The BMW 3 Series plug-in hybrid is set to go on sale in Europe in the second half of 2015. It will effectively replace the non-rechargeable ActiveHybrid 3 in the car maker’s mid-sized range.
BMW Australia corporate communications general manager Lenore Fletcher suggested a local launch would still be “a fair way out” if the new model is confirmed for our market, but insisted the local division was “very interested in lower-emission technology” and would look at it seriously to add to the line-up.
Fletcher admitted the ActiveHybrid 3 has sold in very low numbers, but said the recent launch of the BMW i brand proved the company was committed to launching fuel efficient cars in our market.