BMW Announces 330e As Its First Plug-In Hybrid

In refreshing the entire lineup of 3-Series cars, BMW is taking the opportunity to introduce its first plug-in hybrid, the 330e plug-in hybrid.

Expected to launch in 2016, BMW promises a sedan with driving and handling dynamics befitting its famous nameplate combined with a gas-electric powertrain the automaker says can travel 22 miles on electricity alone.

What the U.S. EPA will rate the e-range to be was not disclosed.

Limited specifications are preliminary and the car is still at the stage where spy photographers are chasing it (340i pictured) but power is estimated at 250 horsepower and 310 pounds-feet of torque.

Zero-to-60 mph is pegged at 6.1 seconds and top speed is 140 mph.

BMW will graft in from the X5 eDrive “situational awareness” plus Real Time Traffic information.

Pricing and more detailed powertrain information have not been announced, BMW does not say so, but the car may very likely use a four-cylinder Twin-Power turbo gas engine from its Efficient Dynamics engine family plus electric motor.

Last November it showed this configuration off as one of three PHEVs in the works. At the time, horsepower was 245 and torque was 295 so it appears BMW found a small percentage improvement since then.

The engine in question has been named “International Engine of the Year” and the electronics are borrowed from work resulting from the i3 and i8. Power on the prototype is routed by an 8-speed Steptronic transmission.

Kilowatt-hour capacity is unclear, but BMW has said it can run significantly higher capacity.

It is not immediately clear also what will happen to the non-plug-in ActiveHybrid3 but it remains to be seen whether BMW keeps it around considering last month BMW sold two units, and year to date through April the tally is nine.

The 3-Series is a most-important car line for the German automaker, but this “milestone” first plug-in hybrid is only the first of more PHEVs expected to meet tightening global emission regulations.