US-Bound BMW 330e and X5 xDrive40e PHEVs Bow In LA

This week BMW introduced two new plug-in hybrids to the U.S., one a 3-Series sedan, another a 5-Series SUV that is being positioned loosely as a potential Tesla Model X alternative.

The sedan is the 330e Plug-In Hybrid, and it will begin appearing at U.S. dealers next spring. This 248-horsepower PHEV is promised to deliver sporty handling on par with the German carmaker’s lower-priced 3-series (pictured above). Pricing hasn’t been announced yet for the U.S.

(More details on the 330e plug-in’s components and performance can be found here.)

The second BMW plug-in hybrid is the X5 xDrive40e, an all-new SUV. At the show, BMW Product Manager for North America Jose Guerrero spoke about how technology developed from the i-Series helped shape the 330e and plug-in X5.

BMW X5 xDrive40e

“Both take the lessons learned from BMW i and bring it to the core model,” Guerrero said.

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Though the X5 xDrive40e incorporates both a gasoline engine (the 2.0-liter TwinPower Turbo) and an electric motor (built into the SUV’s 8-speed transmission) it might be seen as a competitor against the Tesla Model X. The Model X however is more energy efficient, with a rating of 92 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) by the EPA. The plug-in BMW SUV, on the other hand, can drive only 14 miles in all-electric mode and is rated at 56 MPGe.

That said, consumers looking for a larger vehicle with low emissions could consider both. The xDrive40e, which is now available in the U.S., starts at about $63,000. Though Tesla hasn’t published pricing on the Model X, base prices are expected to begin around $76,000 (neither price includes possible tax incentives).

Guerrero said the timing of the Model X release had nothing to do with when BMW decided to offer the X5 xDrive40e to the U.S.

“It wasn’t a competitive impulse by any manufacturer,” he said. “It was an internal impulse that we know that in the future our cars need to be more efficient, and this is a way … into that efficiency.”