BMW Announces X5 xDrive40e Plug-In
First PHEV From Company’s Core Brand
The first production plug-in hybrid from BMW’s core brand (not its i sub-brand) will be based on the popular X5 “Sports Activity Vehicle.”
The X5 xDrive40e will come equipped with a 2.0L I-4 equipped with a twin-scroll turbocharger, which produces 245 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. As the vehicle’s model name indicates, it’s augmented by an electric motor, integrated within the eight-speed automatic transmission. Total system output rests at 313 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque, which is a fair amount more than the X5 xDrive35i, and the plug-in is capable of a 19-mile electric-only range.
Since the 40e is a parallel hybrid, once electric range is depleted, the gas engine comes on not to charge the batteries (as on the BMW’s range-extender-equipped i3 sibling), but to turn the wheels in conjunction with the electric motor. Whether operated in hybrid or full-electric mode, the vehicle’s xDrive all-wheel drive is preserved, and BMW estimates fuel economy ratings of about 70 miles per U.S. gallon. However, we’d bet that number corresponds to the EPA’s MPGe rating, which takes the vehicle’s electric-only range into account.
Performance should be impressive, as the company’s 2.0L “TwinPower” engine produces torque down low, with not much turbo lag getting in the way. Adding the electric motor’s maximum available 184 lb-ft of torque (from zero rpm, remember), we’d bet the Bimmer should move off the starting line with verve. In spite of its higher power ratings over the base xDrive35i, BMW expects slightly slower performance to 60 mph (6.1 seconds versus 6.8), likely due to the plug-in’s 200-pound-higher curb weight.
As with all of BMW’s SUVs and coupe utilities, the xDrive40e will be built at the company’s Spartanburg, South Carolina, assembly plant. Even the high-voltage 9.0kWh battery is manufactured within the facility, helping keep costs in check.
Speaking of, BMW has not announced official pricing on its first mainstream plug-in hybrid, nor has it said when or where it would be on sale. We’d expect it to hit dealers in Europe by the end of the summer, with U.S. deliveries to begin in late 2015 to do battle with the Audi Q7 e-tron.