The new BMW iPerformance models blend combustion engine comfort with electric drive efficiency. The intelligent interaction of plug-in hybrid technology paves the way for substantially lower fuel consumption.
- Michael Seitz
Shortly after entering the built-up area, things go quiet. The driver barely notices as the engine passes on the baton to the electric drive and the large, silver-coloured sedan starts to glide silently past homes and street cafés. The new BMW iPerformance models with plug-in hybrid drive system offer the best of both worlds, combining the sustained power of a combustion engine with the efficiency and zero local emissions of electric mobility. The key technologies used, such as the electric motors, high-voltage battery and power electronics, originated in the eco-friendly BMW i models.
The technology behind the plug-in hybrids derives from the development of the BMW i.
The energy needed for travelling within urban areas purely on electric power is discreetly accumulated by the BMW iPerformance models en route by means of the electric motor integrated in the automatic transmission. During braking or when driving downhill, this turns into a generator that harnesses the moving vehicle’s kinetic energy to recuperate electrical energy. This, together with the energy taken on board from power sockets or charging stations, is then made available for driving – primarily in cities and towns. The vehicle works unobtrusively in the background controlling how the workload is split between the engine and the electric motor. There is almost always sufficient electrical energy on tap for urban driving or for starting off.
The way in which the car alternates between the two different drive sources is designed to lower consumption by keeping both units in their optimum operating range at all times wherever possible. In this way, the combustion engine employs its natural strengths over long distances and at higher speeds. The electric motor with its instant delivery of high torque is deployed first and foremost when driving in urban areas with stop-start traffic. The smart energy management technology also takes navigation information into account. This includes the BMW eDrive system deliberately using up the entire electrical energy reserves towards the end of the journey, ready to top up with electricity again at the destination from a power socket or charging station.
With a fully charged battery, the BMW iPerformance cars are able to cover up to 41 kilometres on electrical power alone, depending on driving style and model. Anyone wishing to drive mainly in the city and in all-electric mode therefore has to recharge regularly. This is best done at home or at the office using a fixed BMW i Wallbox from the BMW 360° Electric range, making awkward charging cables a thing of the past.