With its highly-successful i3 electric car, i3 REx range-extended electric car and i8 plug-in hybrid sports car all selling well around the world, German automaker BMW is rapidly cementing itself as one of the leading mainstream automakers to mass-produce all-electric and plug-in hybrid models alongside rivals like Nissan and General Motors.
It has also quite openly talked about how electrified vehicles play a part in its future vehicle lineup as it moves away from high-performance internal combustion engine vehicles to powerful yet efficient hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Indeed, its next
It’s no surprise then that we’re left with an almost constant stream of rumors surrounding future BMW models, ranging from Tesla-beating long-range electric cars through to plug-in hybrid versions of pretty much every BMW model ever made.
Which is where today’s rumor comes, courtesy of Australian motoring site Motoring.com.au, which claims that BMW is readying a plug-in hybrid version of its X3 crossover SUV for market as part of the planned next-generation X3 refresh.
Due some time in 2017, the next-generation BMW X3 will undoubtedly be offered in a range-topping M-badge, combining a hefty inline six cylinder engine producing the kind of performance that hardened long-time BMW fans crave. But, says Motoring.com.au, there’s also talk of a plug-in hybrid variant.
That, claims the site, would be built around BMW’s current plug-in hybrid technology, offering a 67 kilowatt electric motor operating in tandem with a four-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine to offer a combined power output of around 328 horsepower.
While it stands by its sources, we’ve reached out to BMW North America, which currently isn’t confirming this particular rumor.
“We definitely have plans to introduce a Plug-in Hybrid version of the BMW X5 Sports Activity Vehicle later this year, but no current plans for an X3,” Dave Buchko, Production and Technology Communications spokesperson at BMW of North America. “We’ll have more information on the X5 as we get closer to launch.”
Unveiled earlier this year at the Shanghai Auto Show in China, the production 2016 BMW X5 xDrive Plug-in Hybrid is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine and an eight-speed steptronic automatic transmission. In place of a conventional torque converter, there’s a specially-designed disc-shaped electric motor integrated into the gearbox which can not only help provide consistent power delivery during gear changes but can also power the X5 xDrive in all-electric mode for up to 19 miles at speeds of up to 75 mph from its 9 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack.
Despite offering all-electric capabilities however, the X5 xDrive is intended primarily as a gasoline hybrid with limited-range all-electric operation available for city driving. This is opposite to the operation of BMW’s i3 REx, which is an electric car first and foremost, offering range-extending capabilities only when its on-board lithium-ion battery pack has depleted itself.
We note that the figures quoted by Motoring.com.au do seem to tie in with the current expected power output of the upcoming 2016 BMW X5 xDrive Plug-in Hybrid, suggesting that there is at least some potential to BMW one day offering an X3 crossover Plug-in Hybrid based on the technology due to enter the market in the X5 xDrive.
For now however, given BMW’s denial of any plans to develop an X3 PHEV at this time, we’re going to have to peg this particular story as nothing more than a rumor for now.
You can also support us directly as a monthly supporting member by visiting Patreon.com.