BMW Previews Two New Plug-in Hybrid Models Ahead of Frankfurt Motor Show Debut

With its BMW i3, BMW i3 REx and BMW i8 plug-in cars all proving popular with buyers around the world and its X5 xDrive plug-in hybrid readying itself for a U.S. debut this fall, German automaker BMW is poised to unveil two new plug-in hybrid models at the Frankfurt Motor Show later this month.

The first of these is the BMW 225xe, a variant of the BMW 2-Series Active Tourer currently available in Europe. First seen as a prototype vehicle earlier this year by BMW at its Group Innovation Day at the Miramas test track in France, the vehicle is is likely to use the same 1.5-liter, three-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine and six-speed automatic transmission as the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports car driving the front wheels, with a 65 kilowatt electric motor driving the rear wheels, although BMW has yet to confirm official specification.

The BMW 225xe will use a through-the-road hybrid system.

The BMW 225xe will use a through-the-road hybrid system.

 

In addition to breaking with the tradition of the front-engine, rear-wheel drive setup BMW has used for decades in its cars, the BMW 225xe is a through-the-road hybrid, capable of operating in either electric, gasoline, or blended power modes. In keeping with standard BMW nomenclature, the x in the 225xe’s model name represents all-wheel drive capabilities, while the e denotes an electrified drivetrain.

While BMW is unlikely to launch the 225xe in the U.S., since the 2-Series Active Tourer is currently not available there, it’s worth noting too that the BMW 225xe is based on the same modular front wheel drive platform which underpins the entire BMW MINI family. With BMW already promising a plug-in hybrid MINI some time in the near future, we’d guess that the drivetrain and technology found in the 225xe will eventually make it stateside in a MINI-branded vehicle, even if the 2-Series never makes landfall there.

North American BMW fans need not feel left out however. Alongside the 225xe, BMW will also unveil a 3-Series plug-in hybrid in Frankfurt. Called the BMW 330e, the mid-sized plug-in will use a more traditional BMW drivetrain arrangement, with a front-engined, four-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine driving the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

As with other plug-in hybrid models from Volkswagen and Audi, the 330e will make use of a powerful yet compact electric motor integrated into the bell housing of the gearbox, allowing all-electric operation as well as gasoline operation. Range will likely be around 25 miles per charge, with a limited all-electric top speed of 75 mph and an electronically-limited hybrid top speed of 140 mph. The 0-60 mph sprint will take place in 6 seconds or so, making it slower than some 3-series models but faster than others.

The 330e meanwhile, will stick with BMWs front-engine, rear-wheel drive setup.

The 330e meanwhile, will stick with BMWs front-engine, rear-wheel drive setup.

At this point, we feel it important to note that unlike the BMW i3 REx, which was designed primarily as an all-electric vehicle with gasoline range-extending assistance when required, the two new models are designed with blended gasoline and electric operation in mind. While both default to electric-only operation when powered on, the two vehicles are capable of extended operation in hybrid mode, with a direct mechanical connection between gasoline engine and wheels.

Plug-in fans may therefore view the two models as being little more than compliance vehicles rather than full-blown plug-in cars, but here at Transport Evolved, we’d like to remind readers that not all consumers are ready to make the switch to a fully-electric vehicle. And if both these vehicles help more drivers to make the switch from a large-engined, low-mpg vehicle to a more efficient, partial emission vehicle, we think they play an important part in the drive towards cleaner, greener roads.

We’ll hear more about both the BMW 225xe and 330e in the next few weeks — as well as BMW’s plan to offer plug-in hybrid variants of all of its mainstream models in the next few years. In the meantime, we’d like to hear what you think of both vehicles.

Do you think more BMW fans will opt for a more conventional plug-in like the 330e or 225xe than would opt for the BMW i3 or i8? Or is 25 miles of all-electric range just too little to justify the likely price hike between plug-in and non plug-in models?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

 

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