On the launch of the new BMW X6 ActiveHybrid, Autocar's Greg Kable caught up with the model's project leader Peter Tuennermann for a question and answer session to discuss the firm's future hybrid plans.
Why has BMW decided to begin offering hybrid models?
Electrification will play an ever increasing role in personal mobility in the future as emission regulations become ever more stringent. The hybrid is the first step towards realizing the goal of emission free motoring. It might not end up being the final solution but no car maker can afford to ignore its importance.
The ActiveHybrid X6 runs a full hybrid system while the ActiveHybrid 7 uses a simpler mild hybrid set-up. Why has BMW developed two different hybrid architectures?
Each system is different. The mild hybrid requires far less modification of an existing vehicle structure and can be supported with a lithium ion battery, which offers rapid recharging. But it isn’t capable of zero emission capability. The full hybrid is far more complex and requires a much larger battery which adds to the cost enormously, which is why we’ve chosen nickel metal hydride. However, it can support full electric drive.
What BMW models can we expect to be offered with the choice of petrol hybrid drive?
Volume models like the 3-, 5- and 7-series are clearly more suited towards a mild hybrid set-up on the basis of their packaging and broad appeal. But larger and heavier models like the X3, X5 and X6 lends themselves to a full hybrid solution. It’s too early to say which models we will bring to market with a hybrid option but I can reveal we will launch a third hybrid model within the next 12 months.
Will we ever see a diesel-electric hybrid?
The BMW EfficientDynamics concept car revealed we are looking at mating diesel engines with electric drive. The question we’ve got to answer is just what layout provides the best benefits for the customer. At the moment the concept of a range extender certainly looks interesting but it’s not the only solution.