The premium hybrid market is heating up, with both BMW and Jaguar set to offer high end luxury car buyers new gasoline / electric options to compete against the likes of Lexus. Toyota's premium division has thus far had been able to enjoy a healthy dominance of this particular segment of the automotive market, offering a unique hybrid compact (the Lexus HS 250h) as well as hybrid editions of its mid-size Lexus GS and full-size Lexus LS luxury flagships.
BMW is certainly no stranger to the hybrid game, having recently released the ActiveHybrid X6. The model, however, has not managed to challenge Lexus in terms of sales or popularity, playing more of a niche role within BMW's lineup. In addition, BMW's upcoming ActiveHybrid 7 is a mild hybrid only, without the capacity to propel itself on battery power alone, and this does not position it as a true competitor to the Lexus LS 600h full hybrid sedan. The German brand hopes to up the premium hybrid stakes with the expansion of the ActiveHybrid lineup to include both BMW 5 Series and BMW 3 Series variants.
The ActiveHybrid 5 has already spent some time on the show car circuit in concept form, and is the model that will most likely be released first, with 2011 having been mentioned as the most likely date for sales to begin. Once established, BMW will continue ahead with a hybrid edition of its most popular model, the 3 Series entry-level sedan. These vehicles are framed within the context of both the MINI E battery-powered vehicle project and the Megacity electric vehicle, with the latter hitting the streets for 2013.
Jaguar's hybrid initiative has received a boost from access to electric drivetrains that were initially developed for the Land Rover brand. Both automakers are owned by India-based consortium Tata and as a result enjoy the capacity to share technological developments. For fans of the British car company, this means that by the year 2013 unique diesel-based hybrid editions of both the Jaguar XF and Jaguar XJ sedans will be available in American showrooms.
The decision to use diesel instead of gasoline for the fossil fuels component of the hybrid drivetrain marks a first in the American auto industry, and Jaguar expects to be able to offer not only extremely low tailpipe emissions one each of these models, but also a battery range of 20 miles and a top speed of 120 miles per hour. Eventually, the turbodiesel V-6 engine and electric motor combination will be made available to almost every vehicle in both the Jaguar and Land Rover lineup. The brand also hopes to be able to offer a plug-in edition of the drivetrain for sale just two years after the diesel hybrid's initial debut.
The increased involvement of European luxury brands in the luxury hybrid game is a huge plus for environmentally-conscious drivers, in that it will offer an alternative to the current Lexus hegemony. Not only that, but the fact that BMW and Jaguar have decided to take up the hybrid mantle indicates that buyers will soon have battery-powered options that are actually engaging to drive, unlike the somewhat tepid experience currently provided by the Lexus LS and GS hybrid designs.