It seems as if BMW has a group of mad scientists posing as engineers working deep within the bowels of the Bavarian brand’s factories. These mad scientists have been working on a special vehicle, which is so far from being a production vehicle, that it isn’t even a prototype. This secret monster is a test bed for next-gen, plug-in hybrid technology and is nicknamed “The Thing.”
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What “The Thing’s” real name is the 5 Series GT Power eDrive. But “The Thing” sounds far more menacing, so we’ll stick to that. What “The Thing” is, is a plug-in hybrid 5 Series GT with a 270 hp electric motor at the back powering the rear wheels, a 200 hp next-gen electric motor at the front powering the front wheels, along with a 230 hp four-cylinder engine at the front providing power when needed, which apparently isn’t often.
The combined power output of this monster is 700 hp, or more than the Porsche 918 makes from its engine. Friedrich Wilhelm, BMW’s development engineer, told Car and Driver “It’s designed to have the same feeling of performance as a 550i or a 650i, running mostly electric but with a range of more than 600 kilometers [373 miles],”. That’s, quite simply put, madness. The ability to travel 373 on almost only battery power but provide 700 hp is simply astonishing. The folks at C&D were able to go along for a ride in “The Thing” and, while there are no official numbers, they say it feels as if it can hit 60 mph in under four seconds. That’s Ferrari levels of quick, in a car with seats for five and a massive hatch at the rear. And did I mention it was a hybrid?
If BMW is able to eek out this level or performance and efficiency out of its new electric motor and battery technology, than the Tesla Model S P85D better watch out. Because as it stands, “The Thing” has more power and goes further, while also having more cargo space. Imagine this technology in something lighter like a standard 5 Series? That would take the P85D head on.
Now if/when Elon Musk hears about this, he will inevitably point to the fact that not only is “The Thing” experimental and he has experimental projects as well, but that “The Thing” uses a gasoline engine in tandem with electricity while the Model S does not. However, I think that’s a selling point for BMW’s technology as over the Model S. Plug-in hybrids offer more flexibility as they can be filled with gasoline as needed, so range anxiety no longer exists. Although, Mr. Musk claims to be eliminating range anxiety, there’s simply no scenario where a pure electric car has the range of a plug-in hybrid.
However, we must not forget that “The Thing” is purely experimental. Although the technologies in it are there to be developed for future projects, I doubt we’ll be seeing them in production anytime soon. But it’s nice to know that when BMW wants, it has a group of mad scientists that can create monsters to scare off the competition.