MotoringFile broke the news of MINI’s plugin hybrid 18 months ago. Since then we’ve had a steady drip of news on the new drivetrain. Today we get a healthy dose of data in the form of an official preview.
For those in the US, this drivetrain will be limited to MINIs. What will that product be? We initially had been led to believe the hybrid would be available on both the Clubman and Countryman. However if MINI is forced to choose one vehicle (due to costs) there’s a very good chance that choice will be the Countryman. Traditionally MINI’s volume seller within the larger offerings, the Countryman seems like a safer bet than the wagon-esque Clubman. However here’s hoping we’ll see both get the new all wheel drive plugin option.
Official Release: The advent of plug-in hybrid variants in various model series from the BMW brand is making all-electric driving with zero local emissions in a premium car a possibility for an ever-increasing number of target groups. The BMW eDrive technology initially developed for BMW i cars offers an extraordinary degree of freedom that allows it to be used across a broad range of vehicle concepts and segments. The BMW Group Innovation Days 2015 will host the debut appearance of a front/transverse-mounted combustion engine in combination with a high-voltage generator and an electric drive system acting on the rear wheels. In the prototype of a BMW 2 Series Active Tourer with plug-in hybrid system set for demonstration at the event, the front wheels are driven by a three-cylinder petrol engine and the rear wheels by an electric motor. The result is road-linked all-wheel drive – similar to that offered by the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid sports car, albeit with the positions of motor and engine reversed.
The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer plug-in hybrid thereby serves to widen the reach of BMW eDrive in the Sports Activity Tourer segment:
BMW X5 xDrive40e: this Sports Activity Vehicle – the brand’s first ever plug-in hybrid model – is due to be launched very shortly
BMW 3 Series with plug-in hybrid technology: the world’s most successful premium sedan was already presented in electrified form as a prototype at last year’s Innovation Days event. Further models with plug-in hybrid technology are set to follow in the core model series
In the plug-in hybrid models developed to date by the BMW Group, the combustion engine and electric motor are combined with one another in a specific configuration for the model at hand. The signature qualities of BMW eDrive are present and correct in all models:
Efficiency: substantial reduction in fuel consumption and emissions over conventionally powered models, while delivering comparable performance and greater power
Electric mobility: all-electric driving with zero local emissions in urban driving situations or when commuting
Driving dynamics: instantaneous power delivery thanks to a boost effect from the electric motor that assists the engine under high loads:
Flexibility: the high-voltage battery can be recharged from conventional domestic power sockets, the BMW i Wallbox or at public charging stations
Unrestricted long-distance capability: intelligent drivetrain management governs the interaction between electric motor and engine with no loss of range
BMW eDrive in the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer: all-electric mobility, sporty AWD driving experience, exemplary efficiency
The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer plug-in hybrid prototype fuses BMW eDrive with a model-specific form of power transmission – based on the front-drive concept of the standard BMW 2 Series Active Tourer – which sees action for the first time. Following on from the four-cylinder petrol engine in the BMW 3 Series plug-in hybrid prototype, a front-mounted transverse three- cylinder petrol unit from the new Efficient Dynamics engine family now forms part of a plug-in hybrid system for the first time. The 1.5-litre BMW TwinPower Turbo engine generates an output of 100 kW/136 hp together with a peak torque of 220 Nm (162 lb-ft), with power relayed to the front wheels via a six-speed Steptronic transmission. The additional high- voltage generator on the front axle fulfils three different tasks: it boosts the combustion engine for brief periods with extra output of up to 15 kW and some 150 Nm (111 lb-ft) from rest, generates electric power while on the move (which is fed directly to the high-voltage battery), and enables the engine to be started and turned off very smoothly thanks to its higher output compared to conventional starters. The electric motor is located above the rear axle, together with its two-speed transmission and the power electronics. It sends output of up to 65 kW/88 hp and maximum torque of 165 Nm (122 lb-ft) through the rear wheels.
The on-demand, road-linked all-wheel drive provides qualities unmatched in this segment, with the power electronics distributing drive to the front wheels, rear wheels or all four wheels as required. As with the BMW i8, the intelligent drivetrain management and networking with the DSC (Dynamic Stability Control) system ensure safe and supremely assured handling characteristics at all times, together with optimised traction, highly dynamic acceleration and cornering, and maximum efficiency.
The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer plug-in hybrid prototype accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in around 6.5 seconds. Its average fuel consumption in the EU test cycle for plug-in hybrid vehicles will be approximately two litres per 100 kilometres, which equates to CO2 emissions of under 50 grams per kilometre. The range on electric power alone as measured in the EU test cycle will be 38 kilometres.
The pricing for the production version of the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer with plug-in hybrid drive has not yet been finalised. But thanks to its specific overall vehicle concept, prices at launch will be in the range of existing engine variants with comparable power outputs – just as they are for the electrified versions of the BMW X5 and BMW 3 Series. This means that customers do not have to pay a high premium for the technology.
Wide-ranging driving characteristics, unrestricted versatility
The BMW 2 Series Active Tourer plug-in hybrid prototype comes with the same Driving Experience Control switch found in the conventionally powered model variants. The Comfort and Sport settings and Eco Pro mode can be activated at the push of a button. Not only does this influence the accelerator mapping and chassis functions, it also alters the shift characteristics of the Steptronic transmission. With Eco Pro mode engaged, drivers can also make use of the coasting function, while energy efficiency is further boosted by precisely gauged power control for electrically operated convenience functions, such as the air conditioning, seat heating and heated mirrors.
Furthermore, the driver is able to adjust the responses of the drivetrain management using the eDrive button on the centre console. There is a choice of three settings:
Auto eDrive: this hybrid mode is activated as the default setting in Comfort mode every time the vehicle is started. The engine and electric motor combine to extremely efficient effect in this setting. Under normal loads, the vehicle initially sets off purely on electric power. Once the speed exceeds approximately 80 km/h (50 mph) or under strong acceleration, the engine cuts in automatically. When route guidance is activated, the system automatically calculates how to make the most efficient use of the energy generated by the electric motor and combustion engine, with all-electric driving prioritised over sections of the route where it makes most sense. In Comfort mode, the high-voltage battery is automatically recharged by the high-voltage generator to a charge up of around 15 percent
Max eDrive: in this setting, the vehicle is powered by the electric motor alone. Top speed is limited to around 130 km/h (81 mph), while the all- electric range is some 38 kilometres. Accelerator kickdown brings the combustion engine into play
Save Battery: This mode allows the energy stored in the high-voltage battery to be deliberately kept at a constant level or increased again up to 50 percent (when its charge drops below that mark) by efficiently raising the engine’s load points and using energy recuperation. The stored energy can then be used for all-electric driving at a later stage in the journey, for example when driving through an urban area.
When Sport mode is selected with the Driving Experience Control switch, on the other hand, the combustion engine and electric motor operate in unison and are geared toward a sporty driving style. The high-voltage generator provides a boost effect at low engine revs and generates electricity that is stored directly in the high-voltage battery up to a charge level of around 50 percent.
Drivers can call on another special feature when they require a particularly strong hit of power, e.g. for a short-notice overtaking manoeuvre; moving the transmission’s selector lever into the S gate has the effect of activating both power units, meaning that the drive system’s maximum output is instantly on tap. At the same time, by contrast with Sport mode the high-voltage battery can be charged to 80 percent using this method.
The Driving Experience Control switch modes and the eDrive button settings can be combined in different ways. This gives the driver a significant amount of scope for varying the drivetrain management and vehicle set-up to suit their individual preferences. And the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer plug-in hybrid prototype also comes with a hybrid-specific energy management function built into the navigation system, which allows it to incorporate route topography, speed restrictions and the traffic situation, along with the high- voltage battery’s available energy capacity, into drivetrain management.
BMW eDrive technology has been incorporated into the concept underpinning the versatile BMW 2 Series five-door model without compromising on either occupant comfort or the interior’s flexibility of use. The high-voltage battery is housed in a space-saving position underneath the rear seat bench. The power electronics, including the charging generator, can be found next to the electric motor above the rear axle.
Unrestricted everyday usability and flexibility
The capacity of the main load compartment in the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer plug-in hybrid prototype is identical to that of its conventional siblings. And there is still a storage compartment underneath the load compartment floor, as well.