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BMW details hydrogen plans

Next up: The 2 Series Active Tourer is set to be the next BMW to be offered with a petrol-electric plug-in hybrid powertrain.

More plug-in hybrids and a fuel-cell vehicle ready for 2020 at BMW


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2 Jul 2015

BMW Group has lifted the lid on some of the future technologies that will end up in models on the showroom floor, including its hydrogen fuel-cell powertrain developed with Japanese giant Toyota.

The German manufacturer highlighted the technology advances at its BMW Group Innovation Days, held at its 473-hectare Miramas proving grounds in southern France, showing a plug-in hybrid version of its 2 Series Active Tourer, as well as its water injection process for turbochargers in production form.

BMW's collaboration with Toyota on fuel-cell tech, announced at the start of 2013, is starting to bear fruit, with the luxury car-maker hoping to have a hydrogen-powered model ready to go by 2020.

Toyota's Mirai fuel-cell vehicle is already on sale in Japan and is expected in California in the third quarter of this year.

BMW used a 5 Series Gran Turismo as its fuel-cell demonstration vehicle, powered by a 180kW electric motor and a high-voltage battery developed as a part of the company's 'i' brand electric and plug-in hybrid models.

The hydrogen is stored in a tunnel tank between the front and rear axles, pressurised to “industry standard” 700 bar, while the fuel cells, housing and ancillary systems are the “initial results” of BMW's collaboration with Toyota.

This powertrain delivers a driving range of more than 500km, with refuelling in less than five minutes, according to BMW.

While the fuel-cell technology is still at least five years away from a BMW-badged production model, BMW said in a release that it would form an integral part of its future line-up.

“Over the long term, the hydrogen fuel cell drive system will become an integral element of Efficient Dynamics technology, allowing the BMW Group to add further variety to a portfolio of drive systems which can be adapted flexibly to different vehicle concepts, customer requirements and legal stipulations around the world,” the release read.

BMW showed off a prototype of the i8 from a number of years ago that also uses a hydrogen powertrain.

A little closer to production reality, however, is the plug-in hybrid version of the front-wheel drive 2 Series Active Tourer.

This version of its Mercedes B-Class rival uses a 100kW/220Nm 1.5-litre three-cylinder TwinPower Turbo petrol engine, with generator mounted in the front and a 65kW/165Nm electric motor sending power to the rear wheels, making for an all-wheel drive layout similar to that of the i8 hybrid sportscar.

The plug-in 2 Series has an all-electric range of 38km, covers 0-100km/h in 6.5 seconds and sips just 2.0 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres, with CO2 emissions of 50g/km on the European cycle.

BMW offers its Driving Experience Control with the electrified hatch, with Comfort, Sport and Eco Pro modes changing accelerator mappings, chassis functions and transmission characteristics depending on driver preference.

Eco Pro makes use of the coasting function to save energy, while other efficiency enhancing measures include gauged power control for the air-conditioning, heated seats and mirrors.

An eDrive button in the centre console has three settings, including Auto eDrive which initially uses electric power to drive the vehicle up to 80km/h when the petrol engine kicks in, Max eDrive which is electric power only up to 130km/h, and Save Battery which keeps the battery topped up using regenerative measures.

With the battery housed under the rear seat and the other electrics sitting next to the electric motor above the rear axle, BMW says the cargo space in the plug-in Active Tourer is identical to its non-hybrid sibling.

While precise timing is yet to be confirmed, BMW says pricing will be “in the range of existing engine variants with comparable power outputs – just as they are for the electrified versions of the BMW X5 and BMW 3 Series”.

BMW Australia looks set to add the X5 xDrive40e plug-in hybrid to its roster by early next year, adding to the i8 and i3, and the company's general manager of corporate communications Lenore Fletcher told GoAuto that the electrified 2 Series Active Tourer could eventually make it Down Under.

“We would certainly consider the 2 Series Active Tourer plug-in hybrid were it to be made available to our market,” she said.

Finally, BMW highlighted its water injection tech for turbocharged engines, which was previously detailed in the M4 MotoGP Safety Car earlier this year.

Used in a three-cylinder petrol engine under the bonnet of a 1 Series hatch, the water injection in the turbocharger is said to increase performance and efficiency, with fuel use improving “when the driver adopts a sportier style”.

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