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Frankfurt show: BMW ignites spark with X5 hybrid

X factor: The BMW Concept X5 eDrive combines a four-cylinder petrol engine and a 70kW electric motor.

BMW hints at future X5 sipping less fuel than Toyota’s eco-warrior

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BMW logo22 Aug 2013

By TIM NICHOLSON

BMW has revealed a plug-in hybrid concept of its X5 SUV that sips just 3.8 litres of fuel on the combined European cycle, making it more frugal than a Toyota Prius.

The BMW Concept X5 eDrive will debut at the Frankfurt motor show next month and is based on the third-generation X5 SUV that was revealed back in late May.

The petrol-electric plug-in concept uses a four-cylinder petrol engine combined with a 70kW electric motor and a high-voltage lithium-ion battery for an electric-only range of 30 kilometres when fully charged.

By combining the plug-in hybrid drivetrain with its xDrive all-wheel-drive system, BMW says this allows the X5 eDrive to “demonstrate the typical qualities of an SAV – assured traction and optimised stability in all weather and road conditions, coupled with increased agility through dynamically taken corners – in outstandingly efficient fashion.” The concept eDrive can travel at speeds of up to 120km/h on battery power alone, while a boost function adds an extra hit of power during acceleration.

BMW claims the petrol-electric X5 has a 0-100km/h sprint time of less than seven seconds.

Three driving modes are available, including intelligent hybrid drive for a balance between sportiness and efficiency, pure electric for zero-emissions driving, and a “save battery” mode to maintain the battery charge.

The exterior mostly mimics the new X5, but includes a number of styling touches to emphasise the SUV’s green credentials.

The slats in the kidney grille, air intake surrounds and rear bumper highlights all feature accents of BMW’s ‘i’ blue colour from its upcoming electric vehicle sub-brand, while the X5 eDrive also receives specially designed roof rails and exclusive 21-inch alloy wheels.

BMW says the X5 Concept eDrive can be charged at home via a domestic power socket or a public charging station, while the battery’s status and electric range can be viewed on a smart-phone app.

The eDrive also offers BMW’s Eco Pro mode, which suggests efficient driving styles, while the hybrid-specific Proactive Driving Assistant function incorporates speed restrictions and traffic conditions into the sat-nav route.

If the Concept eDrive goes into production and manages the same impressive fuel use figure of 3.8L/100km on the combined European cycle, it would easily be the most fuel-efficient SUV in its class, well ahead of the hybrid Lexus RX450h on 6.3L-100km.

The battery is housed underneath the cargo area. BMW said carrying capacity had only been reduced slightly, with the X5 still able to stow two large suitcases or four golf bags.

BMW Group Australia general manager of corporate communications Lenore Fletcher said although the X5 eDrive was currently just a concept, the German car-maker’ s local arm would evaluate the vehicle, should it make it to production.

“I think it’s a really good look at what’s possible, what’s coming, and shows BMW at the forefront of this technology at the moment,” she said. “Certainly we would be very interested to see where this whole concept is going and how it would relate to the Australian market.” BMW’s roll-out of its petrol-electric technology coincides with the launch of its ‘i’ brand of vehicles that includes the i3 city hatch and sporty i8 coupe, with the i3 scheduled to arrive in local showrooms mid next year.

The current-generation X5 remains the top-selling vehicle in its segment, with 2062 sales so far this year, despite coming to the end of its lifecycle. The new X5 is scheduled to go on sale in Australia late this year.

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