In early 2013, BMW will bring to market the first hybrid version of the popular 3 Series model. BMW ActiveHybrid 3 will debut next year in a concept form, similar to the 5 Series Hybrid which made an early appearance before going into production.
First test mules are starting to be spotted around Munich and at the famous Nurburgring race track and to differentiate themselves from the “regular” 3 Series prototypes, the 3er hybrids feature the mandatory hybrid stickers on windows or rear bumper. Hybrid stickers are a must in Germany during testing because if the car happened to get into an accident, the police and medical crew need to be aware of the dangers of electric power.
The rumormill churns out that the BMW ActiveHybrid 3 will use a 3.0 liter six-cylinder turbocharged TwinPower engine aided by an electrical engine to deliver an additional 40 kW (about 53 horsepower). No other details are known at the moment, but we expect a similar hybrid technology as seen in the BMW ActiveHybrid 5. The electric motor in the latter model develops 40 kW/55 hp and is supplied with energy by a high-performance lithium-ion battery integrated into the luggage area.
To increase efficiency, the lithium-ion high-performance battery is charged when the car is coasting or braking, the electric motor performing the role of a generator feeding energy into the high-voltage battery. By contrast, under acceleration the electric motor takes on a boost function. Here, it assists the petrol engine by generating an ultra-dynamic burst of power.
The innovative hybrid system features a coasting mode (with the engine switched off) active at up to 160 km/h (100 mph).
We expect a world unveiling of the BMW ActiveHybrid 3 at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show.