We have been saying it for months now and we anticipated an official announcement sometimes in 2011, but BMW’s CEO Norbert Reithofer jumps ahead and confirms their plans to offer a hybrid version of the next generation 3 Series due to launch in 2012. The 3 Series Hybrid fits in BMW’s plans to reduce emissions across its range and comply with the strict emission regulation rules that will be enforced in the next years.

At the annual shareholders meeting in Munich, Reithofer told the audience that the technology found in the upcoming 5 Series Hybrid will be inherited by a 3 Series model as well.

“As early as next year, the new BMW 5-series will also be available as a full hybrid,” he said. “And we are anticipating the hybridisation of further models series, such as the BMW 3-series.”

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Reithofer said demand from Japan was one of the main reasons for BMW pursuing hybrid technology. “Sales of hybrid vehicles [in Japan] have skyrocketed,” he said. “If you don’t have a hybrid in your portfolio, soon you might not be selling any cars in Japan at all.”

The move is clearly a sales based decision, but at the same time, a new hybrid will fit well in BMW’s plans to reduce CO2 emission by 25 percent before 2020.

[Source: Autocar ]