More Signs of Future BMW Plug-ins in Various Forms

By · July 26, 2015

BMW uses the 5-series GT for its plug-in prototype.

BMW uses the 5-series GT for its plug-in prototype platform.

The BMW blog reported earlier this month that the 2017 BMW 5-Series will be offered with three plug-in hybrid options. The launch of one or more of these plug-in cars in global markets could be as early as December 2016. Stories about these models first emerged late last year, and add to a growing roster of BMW EVs and plug-in hybrids expected in the next couple of years.

BMW platforms—for both 5- and 7-series—are not only introducing these plug-in variants, but will employ the use of lightweight materials, including carbon fiber. In this sense, the technology strategy for the company’s innovative i brand is migrating to, and melding with, more mainstream models.

At the same time, the i line will expand. Next up for the BMW i-series is likely the i5. The i5 will be offered in both electric-only and plug-in hybrid variants, thus joining the i3 as the only model that comes in those varying degrees of electric capability.

The i5 pure EV, according to Automobile, will have a 168-kilowatt rear motor working in tandem with a 100-kW motor for the front wheels. That will surely provide an exhilarating ride although it remains to be seen how it stacks up with Tesla models, present and future.

For the plug-in hybrid i5, a more powerful 205-kW rear motor would combine with either a three- or four-cylinder engine in front. Like its number designation, the i5 sounds like the middle ground between the functional i3 and sporty i8—packaged in a platform that has more space and utility than either model. The design, according to reports, would be mainstream rather than space-age, as seen in the i3.

Plugs Everywhere

In May, we reported that BMW announced a new model, the 330e, a plug-in hybrid variant of its popular 3-series. The 330e will have an all-electric range of about 22 miles, which is a step up from the upcoming BMW X5’s 13 miles in electric mode. Total output will be about 250 horsepower, with 310 pound-feet of torque. Sprints to 60 miles per hour are expected at just over six seconds, with a top-speed of 140 mph.

The 330e's powertrain will be used as one of the options for the BMW 530e. Total output would be 250 horses when combining a four-cylinder internal combustion engine and electric motor.

Between the i3, i5, and i8—and the e-drive plug-in hybrid systems for 3-, 5- and 7-series cars, the roadmap for BMW is loaded with plug-in models, with more announcements likely in the coming months and years.

This was directly stated by Klaus Fröhlich, member of the board of development management for BMW in May at the 36th International Vienna Motor Symposium. “In the future, there will be a variety of drive systems for different requirements,” said Fröhlich. “With Power eDrive, the strengths of the plug-in hybrid drive will be rigorously developed going forward,” he said. The target for total gas plus electric range for larger vehicles is more than 300 miles, according to Fröhlich.

BMW driving dynamics are also critical. “With an electric drive on both front and rear axles, electric driving fun becomes a palpable experience,” Fröhlich said. “But the dynamic potential of this drive concept really comes into its own when accelerating from standstill and during mid-range acceleration on the open road. At higher speeds the combustion engine can also be called on as a supplementary drive source.”

Finally, BMW is expecting to introduce a plug-in version of its X1 small sport utility. reported about a plug-n X1, as early as 2013.It’s not certain when—or even if—if the X1 PHEV would be offered in the United States, a question that also remains for the 2-Series Active Tourer plug-in hybrid.

New to EVs? Start here

  1. Seven Things To Know About Buying a Plug-In Car
    A few simple tips before you visit the dealership.
  2. Incentives for Plug-in Hybrids and Electric Cars
    Take advantage of credits and rebates to reduce EV costs.
  3. Buying Your First Home EV Charger
    You'll want a home charger. Here's how to buy the right one.