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BMW improves hybrid coupe vision

Web of intrigue: BMW has triggered interest in its latest hybrid drivetrain efforts with a new web site, dontblogaboutthis.com.

Development car for Vision ED-based hybrid coupe emerges on BMW-built blog site

BMW logo10 Sep 2010

By TERRY MARTIN

BMW AG has created a website that reveals photographs and videos of a prototype hybrid vehicle based on the current 6 Series coupe.

While the fine print and legal disclaimers confirm it as an official BMW site, dontblogaboutthis.com is a clear attempt from the German manufacturer to spread excitement like a virus across the internet about its latest development program, which from the first round of images and footage shows it to be an all-new hybrid model that extends on the work previewed with the Vision EfficientDynamics sportscar concept.

The E63 6 Series-based test mule carries a number of reference points to indicate its eco orientation, including aerodynamic wheels, narrow 195/55-section tyres and a single tailpipe, which when considered with the distinct lack of engine noise when accelerating from standstill in the video supplied indicates a conventional engine/electric motor combination.

Some have dismissed outright that these rather mainstream details do not make it a clear pointer to a petrol- or diesel-electric 6 Series variant when the high-end coupe enters a new generation in 2011.

But there are some striking similarities to the stunning high-performance Vision ED plug-in hybrid coupe concept – first shown at the Frankfurt motor show in August last year – which invite comparison with the 6 Series-based development car.

BMW simply describes it in the following terms: “Obviously, this is more than a 6 Series. But the car is not yet in its final stage.”

14 center imageThe photographs suggest a new chassis under the modified 6 Series body, which includes wider wheel-arches (and presumably wider wheel tracks) among its changes.

The star-patterned wheels have a similar design to those seen in other BMW concepts, including the latest sketch of the all-electric Megacity Vehicle – a model that enters production in 2013 – and, again, the Vision ED – a concept that was described at its launch as a “realistic impression of the unique potential of BMW ActiveHybrid technology” and which also used 21-inch wheels with the same curiously narrow 195/55 tyre specification.

The front end of the test mule also bears some resemblance to the Vision ED, which was described by pundits at Frankfurt as being a first look at BMW’s rumoured Z10 ED electric supercar, due by around 2015.

The Vision ED’s powertrain was no less significant as the first range-extending plug-in hybrid to be seen from the German marque.

It combined BMW’s first three-cylinder diesel – a 120kW/290Nm common-rail direct-injection 1.5-litre turbo triple (fitted in this case ahead of the rear axle) – with two electric motors, a 60kW/220Nm synchronous motor for the front axle (offering up to 104kW for short bursts) and a 38kW full parallel drive motor at the rear.

The rear motor was mounted between the engine and a two-stage, single-speed reduced-ratio dual-clutch automatic transmission, while total system output was rated at 262kW and 800Nm – enough to offer M-car performance, including 0-100km/h acceleration in 4.8 seconds, on its way to a governed 250km/h top speed, and excellent economy of 3.76 litres per 100km.

BMW also claimed CO2 emissions were as low as 99 grams per kilometre.

Using a lithium-polymer battery pack and aided by regenerative braking technology and an idle-stop function, the Vision ED also had an electric-only driving range of 50km and a total range of 700km.

With BMW drawing attention to its progress on a plug-in hybrid with this test mule, the next instalment of the Vision ED could be shown in the not-too-distant future, such as at the Paris motor show on September 30.

The new blog site emerged this week as BMW also announced the end of production of the M6 coupe and convertible.

Following the discontinuation of the fourth-generation M5, the high-performance 6 Series models from BMW M GmbH will also now cease ahead of a new generation series due for release next year.

Production of the high-revving 5.0-litre V10 engine powering them will also now cease.

In total, BMW has built 14,152 6 Series M cars over the past five years, including 9087 coupes (launched in 2005) and 5065 convertibles (launched the following year).

As GoAuto has reported, the second-generation 6 Series convertible is expected to be launched globally next 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.

The first BMW hybrid to be sold in Australia is likely to be a member of the 5 Series, based on the Concept 5 Series ActiveHybrid and a strong chance to be launched here as early as next year.

As revealed at the Geneva motor show in March, 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 also 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”.

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