Originally published on Gas2.
By Steve Hanley
The folks at Auto Express sent there intrepid spy photographer out into the wild recently to see what he could find and he brought home pictures of the 135 mpg BMW X1 plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) undergoing road tests ahead of its release in 2016. Good job, Basil. Cakes and ale all around! Yes, I know, the Europeans measure fuel economy differently than we do, but even if this car is rated at a measly 80 mpg here in the States, it will knock the socks off any SUV presently available in America.
Maybe people don’t care that much about gas mileage these days, what with the price of oil under $40 a barrel for the first time in a decade, but they will definitely love the performance of BMW’s latest cute ute. It couples a torque-happy electric motor to a 2.0 liter 4 cylinder gas engine for enough power to scoot this little beauty to 60 mph in just over 6 seconds. Try that in your Dodge Caravan. For a car that adds less than 50 grams of carbon dioxide to the skies for every kilometer driven, that’s some pretty spectacular performance.
Details on charging time and range are not yet available, but the X5 PHEV will do 19 miles on electric power alone, so expect the X1 to equal or exceed that number.
Chances are BMW will call it the X1 xDrive30e and it will be part of a full range of Bavarian plug-in hybrids, from the 2 Series Active Tourer right on up to the mighty 7 Series luxury sedan. Look for the upcoming 330e and X5 xDrive40e soon and buckle your seatbelt for the fastest, meanest BMW plug-in hybrid yet, the M3 PHEV that is coming in a few years.
BMW has decided to deal with the Tesla challenge by ignoring it. Company strategists have determined that the best way to meet stringent new emissions rules is with plug-in hybrid power. Maybe someday, fully electric cars will rule the roads, but BMW is convinced that day is further in the future than many believe.
Right here, right now, BMW thinks plug-in hybrids are the answer, because they combine the performance of an electric (somewhat) with the range of conventional car. Maybe 50 years from now, people will look back and snicker at how quaint plug-in hybrid cars were, but for the next decade or so, BMW plans to offer one at every price point in the market. Maybe they know something Elon Musk doesn’t?
Photo Credits: Auto Express