BMW's Mild-Hybrid Diesel Vision

BMW will introduce a mild hybrid diesel concept vehicle—based on the BMW X5—at the 2008 Geneva Motor Show in March. The seven-passenger vehicle will utilize a 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel engine with variable twin turbo, common rail injection—promising 36 miles to the gallon and 200 horsepower. The company calls the diesel hybrid, “BMW Vision EfficientDynamics.”

Many analysts believe that the economics of combining a diesel engine and a hybrid system—both of which add significant production costs—make diesel-hybrids a difficult proposition. “This is no pie-in-the-sky project,” said Klaus Draeger, head of development at BMW. “All of the features are production-feasible. We could easily and without too much delay apply the various technology featured on our latest concept to existing showroom models.”

The hybrid system uses a 120V lithium ion battery. Electric assist comes from a 15kW motor paired up with an 8-speed automatic transmission. The lithium ion battery pack and system can support ancillary systems such as air conditioning when the engine is switched off at idle or stop. The BMW Vision EfficientDynamics also features aerodynamic wheel rim designs and a solar roof which acts as an additional energy source.

BMW is using a “modular” approach of mixing and matching various hybrid technologies, fuel sources and engine sizes. Last fall, at the Frankfurt Auto Show, the company showed the larger and more powerful X6 sport activity coupe—a full hybrid eight-cylinder gas-electric hybrid. These vehicles are concept studies, with no announced production dates.

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  • Neil

    BMW is so frustrating! They already has some very eco-friendly offerings in Europe, but will not bring them to the United States. Chief among these are the 118d, 120d and 123d 5-door hatchback style small cars. The 118d achieves 60 miles per imperial gallon, which is about 50 mpg here is the US. I think it already uses start/stop technology with a high energy density glass-matt battery.

    BMW is bringing the 128i and 135i to the US this year, so they don’t seem afraid the US market will reject a small car, but they do not want to offer anything less than a 6-cylinder engine with the BMW badge, in the US, in my opinion. The 128i is small, but it has >200hp 6 cylinder and boasts only 19/28 mpg, which is no better than the mid-size 3 series sedan.

    Even if you haver your eye on the 335d, a diesel, due out later this year, it will be BMWs highest mileage car with an impressive 23/33 mpg. I am being sarcastic because once again that is nothing to brag about. At least it will be 50 state legal.

    Diesel MPG is not as wonderful as some think. First of all it has to scrub NOX from the emissions (i.e. be 50 state legal) not to end up on the bottom of the list of environmentally friendly vehicles. Secondly, diesel fuel has more energy, and thusly releases 7% more CO2 per gallon than regular gasoline. So the improvement in MPG has to be 7% better than the gasoline counterpart to break even. If you are using recycled biodiesel, that helps some, but that is not practical for most Americans.

    For the X5, solar panels on the roof are plain stupid. The energy required to transport their extra weight would exceed any energy they generate unless the car is driven only very short distances and always parked in the equatorial sun. Most BMW owners park their 70K SUVs in an alarmed garage, BTW. But BMW is good at selling and charging for luxury options, so they might be able to do it. Also let’s not forget a solar panel would definitely provide some ecofreak “street cred” regardless of how well it actually helps conserve energy.

    In the end, I am really not impressed by the X5 concept. It is only hypothetical and nothing that special even if it made production.


  • farey

    personally I see this as quite a bold step from BMW, even though there are some drawbacks in their approach as Neil wrote in his post.

  • CLD

    Neil. Good post.

    I think BMW is really afraid to dilute their brand identity in the U.S. as a performance-car manufacturer by offering small, fuel-efficient cars. I too am disappointed in the 335d fuel economy. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what Honda and VW have to offer.

  • Tony

    You make some valid points, but it bears remembering that ALL car manufacturers, including Ford and GM, have more efficient offerings in Europe and Asia that they CAN’T offer here because of tighter regulation on both safety and emissions.

    It is not helpful to constantly assume sinister intent in the car manufacturers, nor is it fair to assume that they are cowering before the preferences of the loutish US consumer. There is undoubtedly some of both going on, but it’s not the whole story, or even most of the story.

    These 50MPG cars marketed in Europe and Asia (some probably at price points in the < $10k range), when modified to meet US safety and emission requirements, would probably end up right in the 35MPG range. I don’t know about you personally, but many of the people complaining that we don’t have these smaller more efficient cars that Europeans have are the very same people arguing for tightening the regulations that are the primary reason we don’t have these cars.

  • uktiger

    Please bmw, sell us your 4 cylinder engines (like my old 318). give us your 1.8 and 2 liter diesel!!!

    Sell us the great bmw fabric (no leather) and steel wheels!

  • micro

    Altairnano battery is the best battery right now on the market for EV ……The Holy Grail of the battery

    you can see also :


    20,000 cycles of charge/discharge
    20 years life
    10 minutes of charge…

  • dragos

    when i can buy a car like this and how much cost ?:)

  • dragos

    MAYBE IN 2050:))))

  • Eric

    I would agree with that, but I dont see why they dont just create a subcidiary. Toyota does that. They own lexus, which is there luxury car company and scion. That way Bmw could keep there reputation as well as create a new brand of fuel efficient cars.

  • Dr A

    I live in Europe and I have a BMW 320i 4 cylinder engine gasoline. it is really good and the fuel consumption is quite good to. The new 2.3 liter diesel engine in the 1-series with twin turbos giving 206 BHP is really great. My next car will be a 4 cylinder diesel car with turbo and why not hybrid

  • Patrick

    hi CRM,
    i am currently in year 13 in Malaysia doing the IB and doing some coursework in business on the topic of marketing BMW’s hybrids, i have used your comment in part of my essay and have referenced you as thoroughly as i could, but would like to know if you could give me some information about yourself like you name and position, so i am able to give you credentials and so the information i use for quotes in my coursework are from people who know what they are to do with, rather than just on the level of opinion/gossip, if i could have a name to refer to and your postion such as “director of sales” or whatever it would be greatly appreciated, i hope to hear from you soon
    thank you very much for your time

  • Patrick

    correction CLD* very sorry

  • ted

    I agree – great cars

  • devvon

    I am thrilled to hear BMW is finally going for the hybrid path, sooner or later this had to happen. I first heard about the new move from the BMW dealers MD so this is not a complete novelty for me.