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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  • vdiv

    C’mon BMW, just lose the dino juice burner already and double the battery capacity (on the i3).

    You can do it! 🙂

    • CDspeed

      I couldn’t agree more, I had high hopes when they started adding more plug-in cars. But given the specs they don’t seem worth it. Paying more to sip a little less fuel is not nearly as attractive as going full electric.

      • vdiv

        Hopefully the electric capabilities these models will be addictive enough for people to seek an all electric one instead of discouraging. At this point it is just not worth the extra complexity of the drive train as arguably it was four years ago.

        • CDspeed

          With such short electric range it’ll depend on the driving habits of the owner, hopefully people who do buy it are interested in the plug to begin with. Although the Volt will probably remain the best EV trainer because plugging it in is more rewarding given the range, and it keeps the owner driving electric more often then these BMW hybrids will.

          • vdiv

            Given the performance of the Volt in battery (charge depleting) mode as well.

            However GM seems less and less serious about electrification and the baton is being passed onto other PHEV automakers, namely BMW, Audi, Porsche, Volvo, Ford, etc. Outside of the US the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and the Golf GTE seem to be selling very well, while GM is a shameful failure with the Volt/Ampera.

          • D Gatewood

            How can you imply this when they have just introduced the 2016 Volt with better range and are working to bring the 200 mile range Bolt to market.
            GM, Toyota and Nissan have a few years on the others and have persevered, what GM needs to do is learn how to promote and then back it up with production capability.
            I would put Ampera’s failure down to customer ignorance, lack of promotion and Europe’s love affair of the diesel.
            I believe with BMW, Audi and Mercedes now on board adopting this technology the customer base are becoming educated and a second generation Ampera would sell really well.

          • vdiv

            Blaming the customer explains quite well why they are not selling EVs.

          • D Gatewood

            Please explain what you mean.

          • vdiv

            Ignition recall.

          • D Gatewood

            Are you saying there was an ignition recall on the Volt.

          • vdiv

            Saying that a lot of people would not even consider the Volt because it is a GM product and GM has a rather poor record with how they treat their customers. Blaming the victims of the ignition recall cars for their accidents was a new low for them.

          • D Gatewood

            Speak for yourself, a problem on one range of cars has no bearing on choosing another that is unique in concept in offering a solution in the transition to full EVs and a change in the order of our transportation system. It didn’t even cross my mind when I recently purchased a Volt product but facts I can relay to you is there is still a lot of ignorance in the public domain about these cars.
            This shows they are not promoted enough plus there is a lot of negative dialogue from those who desire to maintain the status quo of which you are adding to.