At the L.A. Auto Show, New York Times sat down with BMW’s Head of head of sales and Marketing, Ian Robertson, and the main topic of discussion were BMW’s first hybrid models: ActiveHybrid 7 and ActiveHybrid X6.
Before we jump into their article, you can read upon our own test drive of the ActiveHybrid 7.
“BMW is a latecomer when it comes to hybrid vehicles, but it making up for that with the ActiveHybrid X6, introduced in the United States last week, and the ActiveHybrid 7, which is due next spring.
Ian Robertson, BMW’s Munich-based board member for sales and marketing, was flanked by both vehicles at the Los Angeles auto show when he presented an upbeat assessment of the company’s prospects, including “a clear increase of retail sales in November,” followed by “further solid growth” in December and “a relatively moderate sales decline in a range of 10 to 15 percent for the whole year of 2009.”
The full hybrid X6 is no economy car: BMW claims it’s the most powerful hybrid in the world, with 485 horsepower from a turbocharged V-8 complemented by two electric motors. The ActiveHybrid X6 can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in 5.4 seconds. The performance emphasis denies the vehicle any kind of fuel economy breakthrough: it achieves 17 miles a gallon in the city and 19 on the highway.
Mr. Robertson repeated the refrain, familiar from several European carmakers, that diesel is a good alternative to hybrids. “Some 60 to 70 percent of our sales in Europe is diesel,” he said. “The American consumer has images of black smoke and poor performance, but that’s not true of modern diesels. We work very hard to communicate the benefits of diesels, but it’s fair to say that the U.S. has been slow in taking up the technology. But we’re making progress — 25 percent of X5 sales in the U.S. last month was diesel.”