BMW X5 Plug-In Hybrid Concept

BMW Concept X5 eDrive is smooth and quiet most of the time

6/5/14 8:27 am chumakdenis 1

The first thing you notice about the BMW Concept X5 eDrive is how normal BMW’s biggest SUV feels on the road: quick, quiet, sure-footed, roomy. It is a plug-in hybrid with a battery pack under the rear load floor that is good for up to 30 kilometers (19 miles) before switching from electric power to the four-cylinder engine under the hood. While it’s called a concept, BMW suggests this one will probably be shipped sometime in 2015. Technically, it’s like a Chevrolet Volt. Most all your daily driving can be done on electric power, unlike a Prius-like hybrid which is only good for 1-2 miles at a time.

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Actually, that’s the second thing you notice. The first is the black and white plastic wrap applied to parts of the X5 Concept body to disguise body components that may be different from the combustion-engine X5. That, of course, serves only to draw more attention to the prototype vehicle BMW made available at its headquarters in Chestnut Ridge, NJ, just outside New York City. BMW has also taped over the center of the steering wheel (where BMW’s distinctive blue and white roundel, or logo, appears) and a button on the console that switches among propulsion modes. For now, it’s a stealth button.

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 Engine

697.jpgThe third generation BMW X5 debuted in 2013 with six- and eight-cylinder engines in the US and European market. For the hybrid concept, BMW dropped in the first four-cylinder engine seen in a 5,000-pound X5: a 245 hp (180 kW) turbo engine mated  to a 95 hp (70 kW) electric motor. The motor sits between the engine and BMW’s eight-speed automatic gearbox that drives all four wheels (xDrive). A flat 9 kWh battery pack sits under the rear load floor. The load floor rises barely an inch; you don’t notice it.

Press the Start button and the X5 defaults to an Auto eDrive mode that can use electric motor, combustion, or both.There are cities around the world that mandate electric drive, and more coming that mandate emission-free driving, For that, or to pay the least for energy, you choose the Max eDrive setting. If you know you’ll need all the electric power later, press the button again for the Save mode (to save the current battery charge level). That button, by the way, is called the BMW Driving Experience Control switch. It works well, except the name and hashtag takes up half a tweet. BMW makes it tough on social media people.

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Driving experience

 

 

We got a chance to sample the BMW Concept X5 eDrive, a plug-in hybrid version of theBMW X5 luxury SUV, ahead of its appearance at BMW's New York auto show press conference. While comprehensive driving impressions will have to wait for a longer test, we were able to get some quick impressions of the new BMW hybrid at the company's New Jersey headquarters.

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The X5 eDrive made short work of the hills and curves around BMW's campus, with all mechanical systems working pretty seamlessly. A first-time hybrid driver will no doubt be fascinated by the dashboard display that shows the X5 eDrive concept car switching among gasoline power, battery power or both.

The driver can let the X5 do all the thinking, or they can use two switches in the center console to basically choose more gas engine, more electric motor, more sporty or less sporty.

 The first switch, the Driving Experience Control switch, is similar to that found on other BMWs already in production. It lets the driver choose “comfort” or “sport” settings and also a third, fuel-saving “eco pro” mode. The second, a so-called Proactive Driving Assistant button, is unique to the plug-in hybrid. It has three modes, too.

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The default mode is “Auto eDrive,” where the car does the thinking. The “Max eDrive” mode uses battery power only, and is recommended for urban driving. If the driver really floors the accelerator, the gasoline engine will still kick in to deliver the required thrust. “Save Battery” mode locks out the electric motor and relies on the gasoline engine alone.

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 On battery power alone, the range is estimated at about 20 miles. According to BMW, that's enough to accomplish about 80 percent of trips the average X5 driver makes.

 Unlike some other plug-in hybrids like the Chevy Volt, the gasoline engine in the X5 eDrive concept doesn't serve as a range extender to recharge the battery. The SUV does get some recharging from regenerative brakes, but for the most part once the driver unplugs the car, the clock starts ticking on the stored battery power.

The company wouldn't say precisely, but the concept car is likely to see production sometime in 2015, in time for the 2016 model year. It would be the first BMW X5 with a four-cylinder gasoline engine, and it would be the brand's biggest plug-in hybrid.

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The BMW X5 eDrive plug in hybrid uses a four-cylinder gasoline engine coupled with an electric motor. 
The X5 plug-in hybrid shares a lot of technology with the $135,000+ BMW i8. The heart of the X5 concept car consists a pair of powerplants working alone or in tandem: at the front is the four-cylinder, twin-turbo gasoline engine that generates 240 hp and 255 lb-ft of torque. At the rear, underneath the cargo floor, is the electric motor that generates 95 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque.

 Combined, the hybrid drivetrain is expected to produce more than 270 hp and torque of about 300 lb-ft. BMW conservatively estimates fuel mileage at more than 40 mpg. In European testing, the math works out to the equivalent of about 61 mpg, but testing for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is on a different basis and is expected to produce different numbers.

GPS tell the vehicle when it can rud down the battery

688.jpgWouldn’t it be nice if you depleted the battery just as you rolled to a stop at home or the office where you have a charging station? BMW’s ConnectedDrive telematics and navigation system knows about the distance to your destination and the topography en route (downhill, uphill) and will suggest to the hybrid drive controllers to parcel out just enough battery power to drop the battery to empty at your stopping point. ConnectedDrive knows the location of charging stations near your destination and can take you to the nearest one.

 

The battery is rated at 9 kWh with 6 kWh usable; it has a recharge rate of 7 kW. BMW will offer a Wallbox Pro high speed charger with time of day charging, as well as the ability to charge from solar if you have panels connected and it’s not in the middle of the night. That and other features can be controlled by a smartphone app.

Price

The BMW Concept X5 eDrive will not be inexpensive. BMW says performance will be on par with the gasoline BMW x5 ($55,000) with overall fuel economy superior to the X5 (diesel, $57,000). Figure in $10,000 more for the battery pack and electric motor. It will also weigh more, perhaps an extra 400-600 pounds, putting the weight over 5,000 pounds (2,267 kg).

This will not be the only medium-large plug-in hybrid. Audi suggests it will have a PHEV Q5 SUV. In the US, they’ll be great for mostly urban driving, and even on a 100-mile trip the first 20 miles on electricity cost a third as much as driving on gasoline. It’s also an important world car for people in megacities. To deal with pollution and congestion, some cities restrict combustion engine vehicles, either with high entry fees, high parking fees, or odd-even entry days. For upscale motorists who want to work around the restrictions, a vehicle such as the Concept X5 eDrive may be the cost of admission. Other than price and weight, there is almost no compromise. Passenger and cargo capacity is virtually the same as any other BMW X5.

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