Twice the fun: BMW eDrive technology

The BMW Concept X5 eDrive’s internal-combustion engine and electric motor work together in perfect harmony. This SAV of tomorrow is great for the environment, great for everyday driving, and great on power and performance.

Michael Seitz
Mario Wagner

The X5 has always been a car for every transport need, from long-distance cruising to shorter trips – including the school run. Parents will appreciate its safety and high seating position, and their back-seat passengers will revel in its typical SAV spaciousness. They can fill those storage compartments with all their favorite toys and games – and fill the trunk with a week’s worth of duffle bags. If necessary, they can probably show mom or dad how to use the iPad LTE hotspot too. On top of all these practical everyday benefits, parents will also value the X5’s dynamism and versatility, not to mention its all-wheel-drive capability.

Greater environmental awareness

Of course, that isn’t all that parents – and other users – are looking for in a luxury car today. They will expect it to adapt to its particular environment, too, especially around town. All the evidence shows that increased environmental awareness and a general desire to reduce emissions in crowded cities are changing people’s attitudes to the automobile. BMW was quick to spot this trend and quick to act. With its systematic, step-by-step EfficientDynamics development program, it has reduced the fuel consumption of its combustion-engine vehicles faster than any other manufacturer.

In parallel, it has also invested heavily, and with great success, in the development of all-electric mobility in the form of the BMW i3. Now the BMW i stable has released its first plug-in hybrid model: the new BMW i8, which combines an internal-combustion engine with an electric motor. This hybrid drive system, developed in-house by BMW, is surprisingly powerful. On short trips, it allows the BMW i8 to run on electric power only. The battery is charged from an electric socket – hence the name “plug-in hybrid”.

Charging on the road: The high-voltage lithium-ion battery can be charged on the road or at home.

“This X5 combines all the advantages of an SUV and the performance of a BMW with over 60 mpg fuel efficiency.”

Gerhard Thiel, Project Manager BMW Concept X5 eDrive

Optimally matched

Plug-in hybrids were originally seen as a transitional solution on the way to all-electric vehicles. In the past, they tended to suffer from a number of downsides (such as the complexity of integrating the additional components), while limited battery capacity detracted from their everyday practicality. All in all, that meant hybrid models were not a serious rival to BMW’s efficient internal-combustion models.

But times have changed, and now BMW EfficientDynamics technology is moving to the next level – with eDrive. The newly developed BMW i models are packed with this technology. And, of course, all the main components of BMW eDrive –like the high-voltage battery, electric motor and power electronics – have been optimally matched and integrated by the BMW engineers.

Perfect teamwork: The battery pack mounted under the floor of the boot powers a transmission-integrated electric motor.

BMW eDrive components can be integrated in a wide range of current – and future – BMW models.

For their electric components, all future plug-in hybrid models will rely exclusively on the eDrive technology first used in the BMW i models. In addition to the BMW Concept X5, similar eDrive components can also be found in the BMW Concept Active Tourer. The BMW Concept X5’s battery pack is mounted out of sight under the trunk floor in the spare tire compartment. It has a capacity of approximately 9 kWh and provides an all-electric range of up to around 20 miles. In all-electric mode, the vehicle has a top speed of 75 mph. The 95 mph electric motor is mounted in the 8-speed automatic transmission in place of the torque converter. The internal-combustion engine is a 245 hp four-cylinder BMW TwinPower Turbo gas engine. When simultaneously engaged, the engine and electric motor give the X5 a 0–60 mph acceleration time of under seven seconds, while average fuel efficiency is more than 60 mpg. The specially developed eDrive components also include the electronic systems responsible for power-splitting between the gas engine and electric motor and for battery management.

Note: All MPG and range figures are based on European test results.

As components of a flexible, modular system, the various technologies can be integrated as required into a whole variety of vehicle concepts. This gives BMW a unique opportunity to offer the best of both worlds, combining ultra-efficient internal combustion engines with optimal, state-of-the-art electric drive technology. The new BMW Concept X5 eDrive previews a new range of hybrid models. “Advances in the field of lithium-ion batteries and our experience with every aspect of eDrive technology, as used in the BMW i models, result in performance unprecedented in this category of vehicle,” says Project Manager Gerhard Thiel. It would be hard to disagree. The Concept X5 offers all the typical handling of a regular BMW X5. At the same time the various electric drive components have been incorporated in this sporty high-seater model with virtually no compromises.

Technical acceleration

eDrive mobilizes its many advantages right from the word go. Unaided, it can accelerate this large car soundlessly and powerfully right the way through to a speed of 75 mph, if desired. And the electric-only range of up to 20 miles is enough to cover most everyday trips around town. Apropos of the best of both worlds: when both power sources are engaged simultaneously, the Concept X5 eDrive can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in less than seven seconds. Another reason for the youngsters in the back seat to look forward to their next trip to school …