Hybrid vehicles don’t have to be fuel sippers, they can be performance vehicles, as well.
And, BMW is banking on that assertion, as comments made by vice president for engineering Dirk Hacker suggest.
The idea of a performance hybrid isn’t shocking – it’s been tried before by several automakers, including BMW, which has fielded Active Hybrids in 3-Series, 5-Series, and 7-Seriues iterations, and has other more-advanced pug-in hybrids now and in the works besides.
BMW’s idea is that hybrid powertrains can boost power while also giving a lift to fuel economy. The hard part may be selling it to consumers, especially traditionalists – will buyers who want an M badged vehicle be on board with the idea?
According to Hacker, yes, they will be. Of course, Hacker works for BMW, so he’s not exactly an unbiased source.
“We’ve found that our customers are not interested in driving without the combustion engine,” he said to AutoExpress. “They want to know if these changes will help with performance.”
Hacker also expressed reservations about added weight when it comes to full electrification.
“We’ll need to look at the weight implications of electrification,” he added. “What is the compromise? Are we ready now or do we need to take a look at some special structural solutions for the future?” he was quoted as saying by AutoExpress. The weight of the battery needed to store the juice for an electric car could pose problems for ride and handling, and that’s a concern for performance vehicles like the ones that get BMW’s M branding.
With Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards increasing in coming years, and with gas prices certain to inevitably rise again, it makes sense that hybrids will become a larger part of brands’ product portfolios going forward. Not only can they be marketed as a way for performance buyers to get extra power without paying a penalty at the pump, but they can also help boost fleet fuel economy.
This also doesn’t mean that all future Ms will be hybrid-only – it’s more likely that they will simply be available as one of several powertrains. Internal-combustion fans need not fret.
BMW is seeing a hybrid future, and other luxury brands that sell performance vehicles may end up following suit.