BMW wants to sell 1,000 of its fire-breathing hybrids in the U.S.Tue, 01 Sep 2009 00:00:00 -0700
It's literally a grand strategy: BMW is aiming to sell 1,000 of its new hybrids based on the 7-series and the X6 in their first year in the United States.
The two hybrids will be revealed in production trim at the Frankfurt auto show this month. They use eco-technology to boost fuel economy and performance. The X6 hybrid hits the U.S. market in December, followed by the 7-series in April 2010.
The crossover, officially called the ActiveHybrid X6, will make 480 hp and 575 lb-ft of torque. It can run in electric-only mode up to a speed of 37 mph, drawing power from its nickel-metal-hydride batteries. Fuel-efficiency is improved by 20 percent over a gasoline-powered X6.
The ActiveHybrid 7 gets a power surge to 455 hp and a whopping 515 lb-ft of torque compared with the gasoline model, and it employs lithium-ion batteries. Look for a fuel-economy improvement of about 15 percent.
BMW's hybrids are a tantalizing blend of power and fuel efficiency. But they're actually a small part of the luxury-car maker's plan to green its fleet, said Jim O'Donnell, CEO of BMW North America. Sales of 1,000--a collective total for the two hybrids--are a drop in the pan for the company. This year, it projects total sales of 200,000 vehicles.
The company will use more aluminum and lighter-weight materials in an effort to cut weight and employ stop/start technology, direct injection and regenerative brakes as it looks to meet stricter fuel regulations set to take effect for the 2016 model year.
“I think we have the technology to get us there,” O'Donnell said.
More diesels could be added to BMW's U.S. lineup based on the 5-series cars and the X crossovers, he said.
Currently, BMW's U.S. diesels are the X5 xDrive 35d and the 335d, which could get an all-wheel-drive version. Diesels could tally anywhere from 5 percent to 20 percent of the company's sales, depending on market conditions and consumer acceptance.
In other product news, the next X3 will be larger than the current version, which BMW admits is getting roughed up in a competitive market segment. The crossover also will also retain the X3 moniker.
Under the hood, a four-cylinder engine, likely augmented with turbocharging, is a possibility to help boost mpg figures and performance.
But the bread-and-butter V8--a signature for luxury liners and prestige that is slowly disappearing from some brands--will remain an anchor for BMW, O'Donnell said.
“I think in America, what the customer wants is a V8,” he said.
By Greg Migliore