The rumormill is back in business and the British magazine Autocar speculates reports that BMW is working on an hybrid system that uses two engines. According to the UK fellas, a patent has been filed by BMW which describes the technology as a “hybrid vehicle having a split engine”. The hybrid setup comprises a first internal combustion engine unit and a second internal combustion engine unit, and the idea behind this technology is for the car to be driven by one of the engines and the electric motor at low speeds or when power demands are low. When more speed or power is needed, the second engine cuts in.
The patent does not disclose any number or specific details, but it does mentions the possibility of two-cylinder engines being employed. To confuse us even further, the patent mentions that the two engines could differ in size, for example a four-cylinder unit coupled with a two-cylinder powerplant.
The electric motor will assist the two engines to generate extra torque compensating for any loss when the system switches between the two.
The currently launched BMW ActiveHybrid X6 features a two-mode hybrid system which allows the X6 to run either on its electric motors alone at low speeds, internal combustion or a combination of both. X6 Hybrid makes use of not one, but two electric motors which deliver 91 hp and 86 hp, respectively, with peak torque values of 192 lb-ft and 206 lb-ft. Top speed in the electric mode is 37 mph, maximum range is 1.6 miles.
On the other hand, the ActiveHybrid 7 uses a different electric drive setup from the X6 Hybrid and it’s being considered a mild hybrid. The system was developed in collaboration with Mercedes Benz. The upgraded V8 twin-turbo with High Precision Direct Injection runs together, at the same time, with a 3-phase synchronous electric motor which is positioned between the engine and the torque converter. The electric motor generates approximately 20 hp and peak torque of 155 lb-ft.
The future looks bright for BMW and clearly, Project i program is well underway and we expect more hybrid powered BMWs in the next few years, beginning with the BMW 5 Series Hybrid model.