While we wait for BMW to bring more fully electric cars to market, the company is adding some zest to its plug-in hybrid offerings by fitting them with larger batteries that significantly increase how far then can go on electricity alone.
BMW X5 xDrive45e PHEV
The first plug-in hybrid version of BMW’s popular X5 SUV had a wimpy 9.2 kWh battery and a paltry 13 miles of EPA range. Now the company is ready to introduce the second-generation version of the SUV, which will have a 24 kWh battery and an expected EPA range of 30 miles or more. Given that the average American drives about 27 miles per day on average, the latest X5 xDrive45e should be capable of driving on nothing but electricity most days.
In a press release, the company says, “More impressively than ever, the second generation of the plug-in hybrid model combines the purely electrically powered driving pleasure of a BMW plug-in hybrid model with the versatility that is typical of a Sports Activity Vehicle. In doing so, the new BMW X5 xDrive45e offers optimised qualities in terms of both driving dynamics and efficiency. With an electrically powered range of 67 to 87 kilometres in the new WLTP test cycle or some 86 to 97 kilometres* according to the NEDC test cycle, the figure achieved by the predecessor model has been more than tripled.”
There’s more good news for US drivers. According to InsideEVs, the new car now qualifies for the full $7,500 federal tax credit. It is more than a second faster to 60 mph than the original and has a slightly higher top speed of 135 km/h using only the electric motor. It is expected to make its official debut at the Frankfurt auto show that kicks off on September 12.
MINI S E Countryman All4 PHEV
Another plug-in hybrid from BMW, the MINI S E Countryman All4, will also makes its debut in Frankfurt. The latest PHEV version will feature a battery that is the same physical size as the original but has 30% more capacity — 10 kWh versus 7.7 kWh. The extra energy comes from new, more powerful battery cells.
According to BMW Blog, the new MINI should have an NEDC range of about 35 miles but the EPA rating will likely be somewhat less than that. But like the X5 PHEV, any range of 27 miles or more means the owner can handle most daily driving duties without ever asking the onboard 3 cylinder engine to help out. Total system output is 227 horsepower and the new Countryman can sprint to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds. A hybrid-specific all-wheel drive system directs power to the front and/or rear wheels as required by actual driving conditions.
Don’t Knock PHEV Systems
Lots of people pooh pooh the idea of plug-in hybrids, preferring battery electric cars instead. But here’s the thing. A person driving a PHEV gets to experience the joys of driving electric most of the time, making it more likely a full battery electric will be a consideration next time. In the meantime, there is one less internal combustion car on the road spewing out pollutants every mile it travels on electricity.
BMW may not be leading the charge toward an electric car future but it at least is doing more than Toyota and Honda and the major US car companies. Let’s give the company some credit while encouraging it to do even more to drive the EV revolution forward.