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BMW reveals 3 Series Plug-in hybrid prototype with 117.5 mpg; next-gen Power eDrive: 2x current capacity, electric AWD

BMW 3 Series Plug-in hybrid prototype. Click to enlarge.

BMW has unveiled a 3 Series plug-in hybrid prototype. Combining a four-cylinder TwinPower Turbo gasoline engine from the new Efficient Dynamics engine family with an electric motor, the BMW 3 Series plug-in hybrid prototype offers performance on a par with a conventionally powered BMW 3 Series six-cylinder model, combined with a significant reduction in fuel consumption.

In addition, BMW outlined its work on Power eDrive next-generation electrification platforms—an effort to deliver “highly electrified” plug-in hybrids with higher-powered electric motors and batteries with twice the capacity of present versions. Future plug-in hybrid concepts, said BMW, will use the electric motor—the main source of power for everyday driving—to drive the rear wheels, while a second electric motor driving the front wheels will create an all-electric road-coupled all-wheel-drive system. At the same time, an internal combustion engine will also supply power to the front axle.

3 Series PHEV concept. The plug-in hybrid drive system has a combined output of approximately 245 hp (183 kW) and maximum combined torque of approximately 400 N·m (295 lb-ft). Average fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are approximately 2 liters/100 km (117.5 mpg US) and 50 g/km respectively. In all-electric mode, the prototype is capable of a top speed of 120 km/h (74.5 mph), and has a driving range of approximately 35 kilometers (22 miles).

Drivetrain of the 3 Series plug-in hybrid concept. Click to enlarge.

The engine used in the BMW 3 Series plug-in hybrid prototype is based on a TwinPower Turbo four-cylinder gasoline engine that has already twice been voted “International Engine of the Year”. The electric motor and power electronics are directly based on the BMW eDrive technology of the BMW i3 and BMW i8 models.

The motor is powered by a lithium-ion battery which, together with the battery management system and high-efficiency direct cooling system, are likewise rooted in the experience and know-how amassed during development of the BMW i models. The battery can be recharged at any household power socket and is mounted in a particularly crash-safe position underneath the load compartment.

The power electronics form a single integrated system that drives the electric motor, via a liquid-cooled inverter; manages the energy flow from the high-voltage battery to the onboard electrical systems; and provides centralized control of hybrid-specific functions. The drive torque from engine and electric motor is supplied to the rear wheels of the BMW 3 Series plug-in hybrid prototype via an 8-speed Steptronic transmission which—as on conventionally powered BMW models—makes its own additional contribution to the efficiency of the overall drive system.

Cutaway showing the electric motor and the 8-Speed Steptronic. Click to enlarge.

There is only a minimal reduction in trunk space in the BMW 3 Series plug-in hybrid prototype compared with a conventionally powered BMW 3 Series Sedan, while the interior configuration possibilities—e.g. with the folding rear seatback—are unchanged.

Cutaway of battery pack showing modules. Click to enlarge.

Like the current production models, the BMW 3 Series plug-in hybrid prototype is fitted with a Driving Experience Control switch, which is mounted on the center console. This can be used to select different vehicle settings to suit varying requirements and situations. Three different modes are available: COMFORT, SPORT and ECO PRO mode. Each features different suspension settings, different shift characteristics for the 8-speed Steptronic transmission, and a different hybrid operating strategy.

  • In COMFORT mode, the electric motor’s control strategy is geared to relaxed, fuel-efficient driving. In tandem, the electric motor and internal combustion engine can also deliver high levels of power and performance when required.

  • SPORT mode is aimed at maximised performance, harnessing the full combined output of the engine and the electric motor. In this mode, engine and motor are both on stream at all times, ensuring instantaneous response to all accelerator commands.

  • In ECO PRO mode, the accent is on harnessing the full efficiency potential of electrification. Intelligent hybrid functionality allows the electric motor and internal combustion engine to work in tandem to maximize overall system efficiency. Efficient energy management is enhanced by variable control of the electric comfort functions such as air conditioning, seat heating and exterior mirror heating, which always operate at the most appropriate power level. This likewise helps to maximize the vehicle’s range.

At the press of a button, the driver can choose between different plug-in hybrid modes. The MAX eDrive mode provides all-electric, zero-local-emission propulsion. Selecting the SAVE Battery mode keeps the battery at a constant state of charge. If the battery is less than 50% charged, the charge level is increased. In this way drivers can ensure they have enough power in reserve to operate in all-electric mode on a later, urban section of the journey.

The BMW 3 Series plug-in hybrid prototype also features a special hybrid-adapted Proactive Driving Assistant. Integrated in the navigation system, this system manages the powertrain not only with reference to current battery capacity but also to upcoming route profile, speed restrictions and traffic conditions.

This function marks the most extensive and advanced integration to date of BMW EfficientDynamics and BMW ConnectedDrive. Whenever the navigation system is in operation, the hybrid Proactive Driving Assistant collates all the available information about the upcoming route and relays this to the powertrain controller. This information comprises both static data from the interactive map, for example about speed restrictions and gradients, and also real-time information on current traffic conditions (Real Time Traffic Information—RTTI).

The proactive energy management system then breaks the route down into its component parts, including low-speed sections, last-lap sections and gradients, before computing a proactive, route-specific strategy for managing the electric drive power right through to the specified destination.

Power eDrive demonstrator. Click to enlarge.

Power eDrive: new generation of “highly electrified” concepts. In addition to revealing the 3 Series PHEV concept, BMW said that the ongoing development and refinement of hybrid drive systems under the Efficient Dynamics program is geared in particular to maximizing the amount of time the vehicle spends in electric mode. The overall efficiency of a plug-in hybrid vehicle is clearly closely related to its all-electric driving range.

To ensure that this shift to increased electric operation goes pari passu with typical BMW dynamic performance, everyday practicality and maximum long-distance capability, the BMW Group said it is developing a new generation of “highly electrified” hybrid concept models.

Highlights of the future models’ Power eDrive technology will include significantly higher-powered electric motors and batteries with twice the capacity of present versions. With this technology, the BMW Group is embarking on the next stage in powertrain electrification.

The development of high-performance Power eDrive electric drive technology is aimed at increasing both the overall efficiency and the dynamism of future hybrid vehicles. Increasing focus will be placed on all-electric operation. Power eDrive technology for plug-in hybrid application will be a natural choice for use in upmarket vehicle segments too, where it will offer unrestricted everyday practicality plus good long-distance capability.

In these plug-in hybrid vehicles of the future, the Power eDrive electric drive system will contribute approximately two-thirds of the vehicle’s combined output, with the TwinPower Turbo internal combustion engine accounting for the remaining third. The drive components used in these future hybrid systems will offer combined outputs in excess of 500 kW, while the capacity of the lithium-ion batteries—up to 20 kilowatt hours—will likewise be greatly in excess of current hybrid systems.

At the same time, the performance of these future hybrid models will be on a par with that of a conventionally powered sports car.

On future plug-in hybrid concepts, the electric motor, which will be the main source of power for everyday driving, will continue to drive the rear wheels, while the addition of a second electric motor driving the front wheels will create an all-electric road-coupled all-wheel-drive system. At the same time, an internal combustion engine will also supply power to the front axle.

With its development work in the field of eDrive technology, the BMW Group is positioning itself to field the broadest possible range of high-overall-efficiency vehicle concepts. While the BMW i3 is an optimized solution for urban and suburban mobility, future plug-in hybrid drive systems will allow fuel consumption and emissions to be steadily reduced in long-distance operation as well. In other words, BMW is striving to deliver a typical BMW driving experience across a whole range of scenarios, including zero-local-emission everyday driving, long-distance trips and sporty, dynamic driving situations.


Account Deleted

I would like to see BMW devote half of their R&D budget to develop long-range BEVs as they represent the future of luxury vehicles being inherently better than gassers with better handling, more trunk space and no pollution or noise. BMW could make a deal with Tesla to buy batteries from that 50Gwh factory Tesla is building and to get access to Tesla's supercharger network. Tesla on the other hand could buy carbon fiber materials from BMW. BMW need to scale their carbon fiber production in order to cut the costs and Tesla likewise would be able to scale their battery production with new 50Gwh factories in order to cut battery costs further.

There is an investment manager who thinks BMW will forego gas engines altogether in 10 years. That time frame is nonsense but ultimately I also believe that luxury car makers will become the first automakers to skip gas engines altogether.


Good Post.
Once again BMW steals the march on the other German auto makers; just like they lead the masses in amateur and professional road track racing. It is encouraging to see them make such bold decisions and I believe they will be the force in Europe that drives the EV movement.

God, the whole world is waiting for "The Better Battery." Hurry Tesla!


An amazing PHEV. A good interim solution.

With a smaller battery pack and a much large range extender ICE BMW managed to do much better than the 2016 Volt.

Yes Lad, better lower cost barteries are required for future affordable extended range BEVs. Will those batteries come by 2020 or so?

Patrick Free

The 3 Series PHEV with 22Miles of range means another non-sense 10KWH battery is of no interest here, but the Power eDrive is a Huge progress for BMW ! At last one !
Yet, it is still not the desired / optimal Tesla like "all Electric Drive train" with dual Electric engines and an even smaller (non-tracting) BMW Range Extender ICE engine, and a larger battery pack, that could provide this type of capability at a much cheaper price, lower weight and w/ less complexity, PULLING the big central engine (Not pulled here, only downsized to 4xCyl), pulling the huge central gearbox (not pulled here), pulling the huge central transmission (reduced here but still there on the front, as this 4 Cyl ICE remains "tracting", still mechanically connected to the front wheels).
But its getting closer than ever to something I could purchase. Just that should end a lot more heavy and costy than needed, with potential greater maintenance costs due to the huge complexity of this drive train.
In any case this is by far superior to the ridiculous X5 eDrive concept presented at Paris motor Show last month, where I lost faith for BMW regarding EV & PHEV capabilities, and seriously considered buying a Tesla Model X in 2016 following that visit. I hope they will NEVER put their X5 eDrive in a production car, with its ridiculous 10KWH battery and 100HP single electric motor, copied from Porsche meaningless Panamera eHybrid non-sense, also pulling nothing, and at the end having the electric parts working as a sort of "Electric Turbo" mode, on top of 6 x Cyl ICE engine working de-facto all the time, as the all electric mode was just pityful.
Instead on this Power eDrive I really love the 2 x Electric Motors both well > 200HP each, this is perfect BMW sizing for once ! But the battery remains too small with 20KWH. For me the minimum should be # 30KWH to 40KWH, to allow one charge every 2 x days to perform my 65KM/day local commutes, so its 3000 x charge cycles can last longer. With 20KWH I'll need to charge every day so its 3K cycles will last # 10 Years, hence used resale value will remain bad. Still this is far better than 5-6Y with 10KWH non-sense of X5 eDrive.
Then I hope that on the SUVs fit with Power eDrive, where they have more room and can allow more weight, they will keep a larger petrol trunk so for far away summer vacation trips with > 1000 KM of high speed motorway per day, we don't need to stop at the pump too often, and get up-set by that real fast.
Then we'll need to understand the details of everything and their Fast Chargers and Super Chargers compatibility... And the prices !

Patrick, in 10 years a replacement 20kWh battery is likely to be very cheap, so resale value might not be too bad. It's even more likely that the replacement battery will be 80kWh in the same form factor and weight. That's good, because it is almost certain that gasoline will be a lot more expensive and emission limits much stricter.

If battery prices drop only by half, it would be a $2k part at the retail counter. 3rd party aftermarket suppliers will likely make it even cheaper than that.

Patrick Free

@] : Having been a BMW new cars customer for # 25 years I can tell you that it will not matter if a 20KWH battery costs a lot less in 10 years from here, as it will always cost you an arm, as for all critical BMW spare parts that nobody would easily replace by a compatible non-BMW branded alternative. I don't trust BMW for spare parts costs at all, hence I always limit my exposition to them. BMW should commit an extended warranty time for the battery(Porsche announced 6 years for Cayenne eHybrid 10KWH pack) and a maximum battery replacement price valid for next 15 years, when they will announce the new Power eHybrid cars, like Tesla dit, to avoid bad surprises.


As a 'luxury' car maker, or at least up market in the home market and owner of many other brands incl Ducati, costs are likely higher than some but all makers are in this league and rely on spares to keep the advertising and glam coming.

I like the inline emotor hybrid application but not the rear differential as that is unavoidably lossy.Obviously a compromise around handling and associated tire wear.This will change when more environmentally acceptable BEV's come to market.

People don't seem to realise that in the days before AGW Volkswagen covered the world with ~ 27KW and fords model T did the same with a fraction of that.

My experience with a Toyota dyna 2ton payload and dual wheels 3liter diesel rated at 55KW was that the roads accommodated me well though down on freeway power up longer hills esp when fully loaded.
(which was most often.)

Anything more than that (<100KW/Ton) in an emotored passenger car with it's associated massive torque is plainly unnecessary -fun occasionally but not needed and rarely usable on public roads even with the KW and weight hungry sound, aircon and other luxury or appropriate conveniences and accessories.

I would ask the question:
Do I want to experience a home entertainment system or use the vehicle for it's primary purpose?

Obviously I am easily pleased.
Equally obviously the 'power' race is a joke on people gullible enough to be impressed by such.

Like most tech minded I appreciate advances that support efficiency safety economy as practical but brute H.P. belongs on the developers racetrack.

Dr. Strange Love

What is the mpg without the plug-in feature?


Wow, not as good as the current or future Chevy Volt:

1) PHEV, not EREV. Unbalanced bias toward engine-on driving. Engine goes on and off based on power requested, or driving power is neutered with manual intervention to "ECO" mode.

2) Waaaay less electric range. Less than half of what is expected in the new Volt. This is in the critical commuter range between 20 and 50 miles.

3) A concept car, not a real car. This is a press release of ideas. Wheres the beef?



Yes, that's what BMW should do if the environment was their customer's only concern. However, BMW made a name for themselves producing a straight-6 engine, it is kind of their brand identifier. It's one of the things people go to them for, not the only thing for sure but it will be awhile before their customers are willing to give up the distinctive sound of the straight-6 at speed and go to them for the low hum of a pure BEV.


Remember, people who buy BMW, Audi, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, etc. aren't looking for just basic transportation. They are looking for fun, style, status, something to set themselves apart from the herd.

Account Deleted

The zero-emission feature is only one of many benefits from BEVs. It is not the one that drives Tesla's sales. That Model S handles better than any other car because of its low positioning of the battery pack and its engines. It has more trunk space for any car of its size and it accelerates better than any production gasser that money can buy. It is also more safe than any gasser for sale because it has a large crumble zone in the front (where the gas engine typically sits) and in the back. It does not have easily flammable liquids like a gasser but a battery that is slow to ignite and give passengers or rescuers time to get out of the car before it is engulfed in flames after a crash. The BEV can charge at home. No need to bother visit a public gas station 50 times per year. Big deal.

However, it is a problem that this world is only offering >one< long-range BEV, namely the Model S. There should be at least 30 different long-range BEVs to choose from costing from 45,000 USD to 200,000 USD covering any type of car in the luxury consumer segment. Tesla does not have the resources to do more than one new model every 4th year or so. Therefore, it is important for the rapid adoption of BEVs that BMW, Audi, Porsche, Benz and others also step in and introduce these long-range BEVs. IMO long-range BEVs will take most of the global market for consumer cars costing over 50,000 USD once they are made available in the market because they can be made better than similar priced gassers. If Tesla is the only company that will carry the burden of making all the needed models then it is going to take much longer time for BEVs to become important in this world.

I do not share your optimism about low battery costs anytime soon. You need 85kwh to make a long-range normal sized BEV. Tesla spend about 250 USD at the pack level per kwh and then you need to add a gross profit margin of 30%. In other words, about 28,000 USD out of the minimum 81,000 USD for a Tesla Model S 85 is for the battery pack (85*250*1.3=28k USD). That 50Gwh pack will cut that fraction by 30 to 40% by 2022 when the factory is operating at full capacity. So about 20k USD is the minimum price in this world in 2022 for a 85kwh pack including the needed gross profit margin. The model III can use a smaller 60kwh pack to go nearly 200 miles but it will still cost about 15,000 USD in 2022 out of its price tag that will start at 40 to 45k USD. Tesla will have the biggest battery factory and therefore also the lowest cost in the world for that BEV component.

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