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