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5 Series to be BMW’s first Oz hybrid

Five alive: BMW's 5 Series ActiveHybrid is set to become the Bavarian company's first hybrid in Australia.

Australia in line for next instalment of new 5 Series rollout as M5 and hybrid near

BMW logo9 Aug 2010

By MARTON PETTENDY

BMW Australia’s new 5 Series range will be bolstered soon by a high-performance diesel sedan variant and a pair of new Touring models, before being bookended in 2011 by the all-new M5 and a production version of the Concept 5 Series ActiveHybrid, which is likely to become Australia’s first hybrid BMW.

Launched here in June, the sixth (F10) generation 5 Series sedan is available in 520d, 528i, 535i and 550i guises, but will be topped by a new-generation twin-turbo M5 due to emerge in Europe late next year, before arriving here in early 2012.

Before then, however, BMW Australia will launch the new 535d sedan and 520d and 535i Touring wagons, before a petrol-electric model is tipped to join the range in 2011, based on the ActiveHybrid concept that debuted at the Geneva motor show in March.

BMW thus far has not released a hybrid model in Australia, because both the US-oriented ActiveHybrid X6 and 7 Series models are produced only in left-hand drive.

That should change when it comes to the production 5 Series ActiveHybrid, says BMW Australia PR and corporate communications manager Piers Scott.

“The 5 Series looks likely to be BMW’s first right-hand hybrid,” he told GoAuto.

“We haven’t had an ActiveHybrid available in right-hand drive yet, but if there was to be a right-hand drive ActiveHybrid 5 Series we would look at that car very closely for this market.”

14 center imageFrom top: BMW 5 Series Touring, 5 Series M Sport, X3, Gran Coupe.

Mr Scott said a hybrid version of the 5 Series would be popular in right-hand drive markets such as the UK, where it would be eligible for preferential tax treatment and lower congestion charges – the same reason the diesel-powered 520d accounts for the vast majority of 5 Series sales there.

“There’s good reason why an ActiveHybrid in that segment would be very popular in right-hand drive,” he said. “UK demand has got a lot to do with it.

“There is no confirmation of a right-hand-drive 5 Series ActiveHybrid, but it is certainly looking more likely and, assuming it was produced, we would look at it very closely.”

While a hybrid 5 Series could prove a smash-hit in markets with CO2-based tax systems such as the UK, it would also provide BMW with an answer to the pioneering Lexus GS450h hybrid while beating arch-rival Mercedes-Benz to a hybrid version of its new E-class.

In Australia, the 5 Series ActiveHybrid would at least represent valuable incremental sales growth alongside niche models like the 535d sedan, the first diesel 5 Series Touring, which goes alongside the 535i Touring in September, and the F10 5 Series M Sport package.

As revealed at Geneva, the 5 Series hybrid hardware will be based on the twin-turbo 3.0-litre petrol six that powers the 535i – rather than the twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8 in the 7 Series and X6 hybrids.

Mated to ZF’s new modular eight-speed 8HP automatic transmission with a 40kW electric motor sandwiched in between, the ActiveHybrid 5 concept features a full parallel, or two-mode, petrol-electric drive system that allows for short periods of zero-emissions all-electric driving and features automatic idle-stop and brake energy regeneration technologies.

At Geneva, BMW said the combination of TwinPower Turbo engine technology and an electric motor reduced both fuel consumption and emissions by 10 per cent, while “generating particularly dynamic drive power for an even more sporting driving experience”.

While entry-level rear-drive sDrive18i and flagship AWD xDrive25i petrol will complete the new X1 compact SUV range here this year, BMW’s next all-new model will be the X3, which will soon be launched globally ahead of its world debut at the Paris motor show in October and its Australian release in early 2011.

Also due to emerge next year from BMW is a second-generation 6 Series Convertible, which will be launched globally in January, followed at least six months later by a redesigned 6 Series Coupe and, in 2012, by the all-new 6 Series sedan – based on the sleek four-door Gran Coupe concept.

Mid-2011 will see the local arrival of the 1 Series M Coupe, codenamed Pyrat and powered by an even wilder version of the 250kW/450Nm twin-turbo 3.0-litre inline petrol six that motivates this month’s new Z4 sDrive35is ($129,900), which offers a 500Nm overboost function and will be the fourth and final model in the current Z4 line-up.

A minor final facelift for the 1 Series Coupe and Convertible will also go on sale here in mid-2011 following its early 2011 reveal, before the all-new (F20) 1 Series emerges in next-generation five-door hatchback guise later next year (early 2012 for Australia). The new 1 Series should debut BMW’s all-new three-cylinder diesel engines, with three-door hatch and two-door coupe and cabrio derivatives to again follow the five-door.

Expect the next generation of BMW’s volume-selling 3 Series sedan to surface at the 2011 Frankfurt motor show next September before going on sale here in early 2012, with hybrid sedan, two-door coupe, coupe-convertible and perhaps even ‘shooting break’ wagon derivatives to follow.

What’s coming from BMW:
3 Series Coupe facelift August
3 Series Convertible facelift August
Z4 35is convertible late August
X1 sDrive18i September
X1 xDrive25i September
520d and 535i Touring September
Mini Countryman Early 2011
X3 redesign Early 2011
Mini Coupe Mid-2011
1 Series M Coupe Mid-2011
6 Series Convertible Mid-2011
6 Series Coupe Late 2011
M5 redesign Early 2012
1 Series hatch redesign Early 2012
3 Series sedan redesign Early 2012
Mini Roadster 2012
6 Series sedan 2012
Megacity EV 2013
0 Series 2014
Mini hatch MkIII 2014

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