BMW expands its hybrid lineup
What it Is
BMW Vision EfficientDynamics Concept Preview – 2008 Geneva Auto Show: This is shaping up to be the year that BMW shows off its green side. We’ve seen several hybrid and/or diesel concepts from the company, starting in Detroit, and in Geneva the company has unveiled yet another: The Vision EfficientDynamics Concept. This particular X5 is powered by a new mild hybrid system with a gearbox-mounted electric motor and 2.0-liter diesel engine at its core, promising to serve up 36 mpg without sacrificing BMW’s driving goodness.Why it Matters
Change is on the horizon, and automakers – particularly luxury brands – are going to have to learn new ways to satisfy customers who want to be coddled while making their cars more efficient. Part of it is customer demand, but it’s also government regulation. Cars like the X5 Vision EfficientDynamics concept are design right at this dual-minded customer, while satisfying upcoming fuel economy regulations to boot.
What’s Under the Hood
Like any hybrid, there are two parts to the powertrain. The part that burns stuff is a 2.0-liter twin-turbo common-rail diesel that puts out 204 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque. The part that moves electrons around is a 15-kW electric generator integrated into the eight-speed automatic gearbox. Interestingly, the engine never recharges the batteries through this generator. Instead, electricity is regenerated through an efficient regenerative braking process and through solar cells on the roof which contribute 1 kW/h to the vehicle. The engine also shuts off automatically at stops. BMW says the combination gives the Vision EfficientDynamics 36 mpg in the European cycle.
What it Looks Like
Strip off the fancy decal work and you’re looking at a standard-issue BMW X5. That’s no bad thing, as the X5 is a good looking vehicle, with taut lines and a minimum of the swoopy curves and peculiar lines that have afflicted the brand’s sedans as of late. The only major difference are the wheels, which BMW says are more efficient at high speed.
What BMW Says
According to BMW, the Vision EfficientDynamics concept will allow drivers to, “Experience driving pleasure and reduce fuel consumption and exhaust emission levels.” It goes on to say: “BMW’s unique development strategy has n ow been taken one stage further: with the concept study BMW Vision Efficient Dynamics...a diesel engine and BMW ActiveHybrid Technology combine.” Unique development strategy? Isn’t the hybrid system a joint venture between BMW and Mercedes-Benz?
What We Think
Like any enthusiasts, we’re torn these days. On one hand, we love our luxury cars and the joys of driving them. On the other, we hate being planet killers, spewing our emissions here and there. Cars like the Vision EfficientDynamics concept gives us a glimpse into the future, and what we see gives us hope.
By Keith Buglewicz
Photo credit: BMW