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  • BMW’s Future Is Electric

    48.1351° N, 11.5820° E

    "BMW's Future Is Electric"

    Days before the Formula E’s race cars were set to take over the streets of Montreal, a fleet of BMW’s newest and most exciting electric vehicles took to the road. As one of the partners of the motorsport, the German automaker had invited us to get behind the wheel of some of their all-electric and hybrid vehicles to get a sense of where the future of the company is heading. BMW was one of the first luxury automotive companies that vowed to have BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle)  or PHEV (Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle) offerings in every category by 2025 and so far they appear to be on track. The fleet that was presented to us in Montreal consisted of their all-electric i3, a 330e, an X5 XDrive 40e, a Mini Cooper S E Countryman All4, and their highly sought after i8. All that was missing from this arrangement was the 530e and the 740e. Nonetheless, the five vehicles that were present were enough to convince us that they are on track to meet their goal eight years from now.

    For those who have never driven a plug-in hybrid BMW before is it safe to say that aesthetically there isn’t much altered beside the badges that indicate its electric components. From the performance side, they’ve adjusted the power plants of their vehicles like the 330e and the X5 40e with 2.0-litre turbocharged four cylinders that work in tandem with the electric motor – both combine for 248-horsepower and 308-horsepower respectively. While some might worry that BMW may have sacrificed a few performance details, it should be noted that someone looking to purchase one of their plug-in hybrids isn’t necessarily looking for maximum output. Instead, their focus on finding a balance of power, conservation, and luxury. To which we would say, BMW’s electric offerings satisfy easily.

    When driven in electric-only mode, you can expect to get an average of twenty kilometres from the battery. While this may seem meager, BMW has surmised that the average driver logs in roughly that many clicks daily going to and from work. If you’re capable of charging the battery while you’re at your desk that would help to keep the gas mileage down. However, should you not be able to charge the battery, the vehicle still functions as a hybrid, making use of the fuel saving technology throughout the entire drive. Most notably, automatic start/stop and brake regeneration. Moreover, the powertrain of BMW’s PHEV vehicles has three different battery usage modes – Auto eDrive which balances the use of both powertrains; Max eDrive utilizes the full capacity of the battery; and Save Battery aims to maintain and raise the battery’s charge so it can be used at a later time. These hybrid three modes are then combined BMW’s familiar Comfort, Sport, and Eco Pro adjustable-chassis settings.

    Within our short time frame, we got behind the wheel of the i8 and the X5.

    Let’s talk about the i8 first. For BMW, there’s a lot to celebrate about their first hybrid supercar from its amazingly futuristic silhouette to its powerful 357-horsepower hybrid engine. We enjoyed the stiff feedback we got from the steering wheel, it’s as if the supercar demands to be controlled rather than to held lacklusterly. In any other of the driving modes besides Sport, the supercar feels sedated, which is a welcome feel as most would be tempted to jaunt from intersection to intersection. With all that power and technology built into the i8, the vehicle needs to be tested but appreciated and admired.

    Learn more about the i8 here.

    The next plug-in hybrid we drove was the 2017 X5 xDrive40e. Besides having a first glance at it during our afternoon with BMW, we got another opportunity to spend a few more days with it after the event. As a daily driver, it would be hard to believe that anyone could ask more from the hybrid X5. The interior is well-appointed, the cargo space is voluminous, the infotainment with a large 10.2-inch is easy to navigate, and the safety technology is continually looking out for unwelcome accidents. If you live in the city and the office is not far from home, the electric battery will serve you well in the stop-and-go, stop-and-go driving conditions. We tried as much as possible to drive in Max eDrive mode and if our trips in and around town were short, we benefitted. However, if our days on the road went longer that’s when the fuel kicked in. Nonetheless, the X5 40e is a hybrid, it will always be geared to maximize on fuel. In regards to charging times, it varies according to the voltage of the port. With a 110-volt, the X5 will take an estimated seven hours of charge, whereas on a more powerful 220-volt, it will take two to three hours. Overall, the transition between electric battery and motor power is seamless. The X5 doesn’t miss a beat.

    Learn more about BMW X5 XDrive 40e here.

    Learn more about BMW’s commitment to electrifying their vehicle line-up here.

     Words & Photography: Jon Carlo Tapia