BMW is a luxury auto manufacturer that is based in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, and was founded in 1916. BMW’s luxury and performance passenger cars are sold all over the world, and the company produces a diverse lineup of vehicle types. BMW hybrid cars are based on traditional gasoline-powered BMW models, and typically offer a modest reduction in fuel consumption over their gasoline counterparts.
The hybrid drivetrain technology used by BMW is part of the Global Hybrid Cooperation, a hybrid system that was developed in a joint venture between General Motors, Chrysler, Daimler, and BMW. Each auto manufacturer involved in the venture modifies the hybrid technology to suit its own vehicles, and most of them have come up with their own name for the system. The partnership was originally started in 2004 to develop a two-mode hybrid system, in 2007, some time after the first task was accomplished, BMW and the former DaimlerChrysler continued collaborating on a hybrid system particularly for rear-wheel-drive luxury cars. The project has since been discontinued, although offering rear-wheel-drive premium hybrids is still a goal of BMW.
The BMW nomenclature helps buyers identify BMW hybrid car models. A three digit number identifies the vehicle’s status in the model hierarchy, and often roughly corresponds to trim levels within the model lineup. Then comes letters, usually one or two. These letters represent different vehicle characteristics, such as “d” for a diesel engine or “L” for a long wheelbase version of a vehicle. However, BMW hybrid models are somewhat of an exception to this rule. BMW hybrids, such as the hybrid version of the X6 crossover, include “ActiveHybrid” as part of the model name.
The first BMW hybrid cars to be introduced were a luxury crossover and an executive sedan, helping BMW differentiate its hybrid models from the rest of the hybrid market. BMW introduced the X6 ActiveHybrid as a concept car in 2007, at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The 7 Series ActiveHybrid was shown in concept form in the Paris Motor Show in 2008. However, the X6 ActiveHybrid Concept was a full hybrid, which means it can travel on electric power alone for limited distances at modest speeds. The 7 Series ActiveHybrid Concept was a mild hybrid, which means it relies on both engines together and does not have a pure electric mode. Since the cars went to production, BMW has established that ActiveHybrid models will all be full hybrids. Both cars went on sale in selected markets in 2009, and since then, BMW has concentrated on adding ActiveHybrid drivetrain options to many more of the models in the brand’s lineup.