BMW Developing New Electric Drive Architecture

BMW is working on two plug-in electrified powertrains and recently provided highlights of its product philosophy.

The company’s direction was spoken of by Klaus Fröhlich, member of the board of development management for BMW AG while addressing the 36th International Vienna Motor Symposium last week.

“In the future there will be a variety of drive systems for different requirements,” said Fröhlich.

BMW Power eDrive (3)

BMW 3-series plug-in hybrid powertrain prototype.

BMW has already seen success with its all-electric i3, noted Fröhlich. He said this vehicle illustrates that there is a strong market for small to mid-size vehicles that offer zero emission driving for daily commutes around 60 miles.

But for those who seek longer range, BMW is developing another option with its upcoming plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV).

SEE ALSO: Teardown Reveals BMW i3 Is “Most Advanced Vehicle on the Planet

“Driving requirements that exceed this in terms of dynamics and long-distance suitability, on the other hand, are best served by innovative plug-in hybrid drives,” said BMW.

In other words, BMW is not talking about longer-range EVs such as Tesla now makes, but rather the PHEV route is where it sees best potential.

“With Power eDrive, the strengths of the plug-in hybrid drive will be rigorously developed going forward.

“A total range of some 600 kilometers (310 miles) guarantees a long-distance capability that is also adequate for large vehicles. In statistical terms, some 80 percent of the average annual mileage of a typical commuter could be covered in all-electric mode.”

BMW TwinPower Turbo 4-cylinder engine.

BMW TwinPower Turbo 4-cylinder engine.

This is a direct quote, but Fröhlich omits critical EV range and what he really means is the car can function 80 percent of daily drives in EV mode – however far that happens to be. His “annual” assumption is based on an ideal of nothing but daily driving within e-range.

By contrast, Chevrolet estimated the 50-mile range 2016 Volt will do 90 percent of daily trips in EV mode. Since 2010 the first-gen Volt according to GM OnStar data has indeed provided 80 percent of dailty trips gas free with its 35-40 mile range.

The 2016 Volt’s total range is over 400 miles, which really is only a function of the fuel tank capacity.

Because BMW wants these vehicles to be both inexpensive and fun to drive, the company said that integrating efficient systems with sporty handling are the two key qualities driving the development of these electrified powertrains.

“Power eDrive technology, moreover, comes with the kind of sporting potential traditionally associated with a BMW,” said the carmaker.

SEE ALSO: BMW Announces 330e As Its First Plug-In Hybrid

“With an electric drive on both front and rear axles, electric driving fun becomes a palpable experience. But the dynamic potential of this drive concept really comes into its own when accelerating from standstill and during mid-range acceleration on the open road. At higher speeds the combustion engine can also be called on as a supplementary drive source.”

Fröhlich didn’t mention if the upcoming 330e – BMW’s first plug-in hybrid, expected to appear sometime next year – will use the Power eDrive and deliver a 300+ mile range. Limited information has been released on the 330e so far, though it’s anticipated that BMW will use its four-cylinder Twin-Power turbo gas engine in the powertrain. Pictured at the top is a 3-series prototype tested by the German automaker last fall.