BMW bat­tery charge

The petrol-elec­tric X6 is built for speed, writes PAUL GOVER in the US

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige -

THE per­for­mance bench­mark for hy­brid ve­hi­cles will be lifted to a new level be­fore the end of the year. BMW plans to do the job with a petrol-elec­tric X6, match­ing the 250km/h top speed of the Mercedes S-Class hy­brid, but sig­nif­i­cantly un­der­cut­ting its 0-100km/h sprint abil­ity with a 5.6-sec­ond mark.

The X6 hy­brid— now of­fi­cially called the BMW Ac­tiveHy­brid X6 — is now com­mit­ted for pro­duc­tion by the end of the year.

The new SUV is a full hy­brid, ca­pa­ble of run­ning on bat­ter­ies alone at speeds up to 60km/h for about 3km. It was de­vel­oped in a tech­nol­ogy part­ner­ship be­tween BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Gen­eral Motors.

GM has three hy­brid mod­els in pro­duc­tion and Benz is com­ing with a V6-pow­ered hy­brid ML, but those are only rear-wheel drive.

X6 hy­brid pro­gram spokesman An­dreas Lampka, sit­ting in At­lanta along­side the car, says: ‘‘Ours is an all-wheel-drive ve­hi­cle, with a dif­fer­ent trans­mis­sion. This is a full hy­brid, ca­pa­ble of driv­ing elec­tri­cally.’’ And there is an­other dif­fer­ence. ‘‘It’s a per­for­mance hy­brid as well. It’s go­ing to be the fastest four-wheel-drive hy­brid in the world,’’ Lampka says. ‘‘The S-Class hy­brid is al­ready gov­erned to 250km/h and ours will also go 250. But it will be about 5.6 sec­onds to 100km/h.’’

The me­chan­i­cal pack­age uses the reg­u­lar 4.4-litre V8 from the X6, with a two-mode, sev­en­speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. A pair of 67kW elec­tric motors are fit­ted in­side the drive sys­tem.

The elec­tric con­troller sits over the en­gine in the nose, there is a gi­ant nickel-metal-hy­dride bat­tery pack — man­u­fac­tured by GM — in the boot, and a spe­cial mon­i­tor­ing pro­gram in the iDrive sys­tem.

The big vis­ual change is a power bulge in the bon­net to clear the hy­brid con­troller, though there are also unique wheels.

The hy­brid com­po­nents add about 200kg to the X6’s weight, mean­ing the petrol-elec­tric model will come in around 2600kg.

The same sys­tem will also be used for the hy­brid ver­sion of the lux­ury 7 Se­ries, which is com­ing next year. But the X6 is first.

‘‘It will be this year,’’ Lampka says, out­lin­ing the sales strat­egy.

‘‘It’s a niche prod­uct, as any X6 is a niche prod­uct, but we don’t have a lim­ited amount. We’re go­ing to have them and if the mar­ket de­mands them, we will build them.

‘‘We say it’s go­ing to be avail­able world­wide, de­pend­ing on the mar­ket. Not only the US and Europe, but se­lected coun­tries, ob­vi­ously.’’

Bad news if it does come to Aus­tralia will be the price.

‘‘It will be a con­sid­er­able pre­mium,’’ Lampka says. ‘‘We want to make money with our hy­brids. Most of the hy­brids to­day are heav­ily sub­sidised, but we want to make money and that’s why we had the co-op­er­a­tion with Daim­lerChrysler and Gen­eral Motors.’’

Elec­tric point: the BMW Ac­tiveHy­brid X6, com­mit­ted for pro­duc­tion by the end of the year and (left) X6 hy­brid pro­gram spokesman An­dreas Lampka.

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