BMW Australia says it is taking a slow and steady approach to the roll out of
its iPerformance range of petrol-electric hybrid models by prioritising an
increase in brand and technology awareness over chasing outright volume.
The German car-maker has just launched its 5 Series-based 530e plug-in hybrid
electric vehicle (PHEV) in Australia, which marks the fourth model in its
iPerformance range of plug-ins following the launch last year of the X5
xDrive40e and 330e, as well as the 740e earlier this year.
Its i3 city hatch and i8 sportscar, that fall under the company’s ‘i’ sub
brand, brings its electrified model count to six.
More PHEVs are on the cards for Australia, with the company still considering
whether to introduce the plug-in version of the recently launched Mini
Countryman later this year, while the i8 Spyder will lob next year and the
electrified version of the third-generation X3 SUV is a likely starter for 2019.
BMW Group Australia chief executive Marc Werner was coy on sales targets for
the new 530e sedan and the other iPerformance models, but acknowledged that a
wider consumer understanding and awareness of the cars and their tech “is going
to take time”.
“It is nothing that we are pushing in terms of volume,” he told GoAuto at the
530e media launch in Sydney this week. “It is definitely a new technology where
we need to create first of all the necessary awareness, but also get the buy-in
from the consumers. So that is going to take time.
“If you think about it we just launched the BMW ‘i’ brand at the end of 2014,
so it is still fairly new and it is still fairly new technology and it is going
to take time when we see the necessary traction. Having said that, with now six
cars available and more than 20 dealers that have actually been trained on this
particular technology and all the marketing and corporate communication
activities that we are doing, it is a 360-degree approach, including the most
recent Westfield activity.”
BMW’s tie-in with Westfield shopping centres incudes the roll out of
ChargePoint EV charging stations, with more set to open in the coming months.
Currently, there are about 200 ChargePoint stations in shopping centres and car
parks around Australia.
“We will see more and more momentum coming through now and by that creating
even more awareness, and more awareness usually then translates into more
sales,” he added.
“The message is, we are not pushing this. It would be the wrong approach. We
need to build the brand, we need to build the awareness for the consumer.”
BMW has priced the 530e at $108,900 plus on-road costs, which is identical to
its petrol-powered 530i sibling with which it shares the same specification
It is the first time BMW Australia has offered a plug-in hybrid variant for the
same price as its internal combustion equivalent. The 330e adds $3000 to the
price of the 330i and the 740e carries a $4200 premium over the 740i.
According to the latest pricing figures, the X5 xDrive40e now matches the
$124,200 pricetag of the X5 xDrive40d.
BMW’s pricing for its electrified 5 Series undercuts its main rival, the
Mercedes-Benz E350e, by $22,700.
Audi and Jaguar are yet to offer electrified versions of their A6 and XF
contenders, but Audi is set to roll out ‘E-tron’ versions of many of its key
passenger models and the next-gen A6 due before 2019 is a likely starter.
The only other real rival is Tesla’s full electric Model S sedan that ranges in
price from $151,281 to $270,809 driveaway.
Under the bonnet of the 530e is a 2.0-litre TwinPower turbocharged
four-cylinder petrol engine delivering 135kW/290Nm combined with an 83kW/250Nm
electric motor for a total system output of 185kW/420Nm.
The 530e is fitted with a 9.2kWh lithium-ion battery pack and power is sent to
the rear wheels via an eight-speed Steptronic automatic transmission.
BMW’s big sedan – the 530e will not be offered in wagon guise – can crack zero
to 100km/h in 6.2 seconds (the same as the 530i) and its official combined fuel
consumption figure is 2.3 litres per 100km, while CO2 emissions are rated at
It is offered with three different driving modes, including Auto eDrive for
electric driving up to 90km/h, Max eDrive for electric driving up to 140km/h,
and Battery Control mode which allows the driver to nominate the charge level
for the battery.
According to BMW, the 530e can be driven on electric power only for up to 43km.
Charging via a standard domestic socket be done in less than four hours for an
80 per cent charge, while BMW’s I Wallbox home or office system can ensure an
80 per cent charge in less than three hours.
BMW says that the fuel tank has dropped by 22 litres to 46 litres compared with
the petrol-powered 530i due to the location of the battery pack ahead of the
This positioning helps ensure a weight distribution of 48:52 for the 530e which
enables a similar dynamic driving experience to its internal combustion
siblings, according to the car-maker.
The battery pack has also meant smaller boot capacity, dropping from 530 litres
in the 530i to 410L in the hybrid.
A number of flourishes differentiate the 530e from the 530i, including blue
kidney grille slats, blue wheel hub covers, illuminated eDrive sill panels,
eDrive badges on the C-pillar, as well as a different display for the
instrument cluster and central display screen.
Depending on what drive mode is selected, the instrument cluster changes and
the 530e also includes Acoustic Protection so pedestrians can hear the car
A Driving Experience Control switch lets drivers change between Eco Pro, Sport
and Comfort mode, which alters the characteristics of the suspension and
The 530e features the latest version of BMW’s iDrive with the 10.2-inch screen
that is accessed only via the iDrive controller. All navigation, phone,
entertainment and vehicle functions are accessed through this system.
Other standard gear includes Navigation System Professional, wireless
smartphone charging, head-up display, automatic tailgate, Dynamic Damper
Control, 16-speaker Harman/kardon sound system, sports seats with heating
function, anthracite roof liner, an M leather steering wheel, 19-inch M light
alloys, adaptive LED headlights with High Beam Assist and Selective High Beam
and the M Sport package with M aerodynamics package and M sports brakes.
Standard safety gear includes Driving Assistant Plus with Active Cruise with
Stop & Go function, steering and Lane Control Assistant, front cross traffic
warning, crossroads warning and lane keeping assist, the Parking Assistant Plus
that includes Parking Assistant with rear Active Park Distance Control,
Surround View, Panorama View and 3D View, speed limit information with speed
limiter and a full suite of airbags.