BMW certainly hasn’t been subtle in its belief in the future of electricity-powered drivetrains. The i8 sports car and i3 city car may indeed be production vehicles, but they’re still just a glimpse of the potential future BMW wants to be a part of. In the mean time, the preparation for such a future begins now.
At an event dubbed “Innovation Days,” the Bavarian automaker outlined its next steps in powertrain electrification. Not the least of which is the Power eDrive technology, which will probably change our perception of plug-in hybrids as primarily fuel-efficient vehicles to electrified, high-performance cars.
What Power eDrive intends to do is crank up the capacity and output of the electric motors used in hybrids, making them the primary power source for two-thirds of the output. While this occurs, a twin-turbo combustion engine takes more of a support role, providing the remaining third. In short, this system completely flips around our current notion of hybrids.
BMW demonstrated this configuration by building a prototype out of a 5 Series GT. This proof-of-concept mated two motors to an all-wheel-drive of the 5 Series, one powering the rear wheels, one powering the front, and a turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder supplying additional power to the front. All these power plants combine to pump out a stellar 670 horsepower.
Not bad pull for a plug-in, right? With great electric power also comes great efficiency, and the Power eDrive system will sustain electric-only driving for 62 miles before needing to be charged up.
This prototype of the Power eDrive system is merely a demonstration of the future potential of the system, and while demoed in the 5 Series, BMW does eventually want a plug-in electric variant of all its core models, so it doesn’t take much to imagine a paired-down version of the powerful hybrid system making its way across the product board.
It’s refreshing to know that companies like BMW recognize a future of low-to-zero emission, fuel efficient vehicles and performance cars aren’t mutually exclusive.