BMW 340-hp hybrid

BMW takes aim at Lexus with 340-hp hybrid models

BMW, the largest builder of luxury vehicles worldwide, is expanding their lineup of hybrids with 340-horsepower gas/electric versions of their two best sellers, clearly with designs on Lexus market share.

BMW’s hybrid lineup will expand to four vehicles next year with versions of the 3- and 5-Series sports sedans combining turbo-charged six-cylinders with an electric motor to boost both economy and performance. This edges closer to Lexus, the leader in hybrid luxury, who offers five hybrid models all of which originated as a performance option.

"Lexus so far effectively had a monopoly on luxury-hybrid models," said Jesse Toprak, vice president of industry trends forTrueCar.com, quoted in a Bloomberg article by Chris Reiter. "Their dominance will be challenged for the first time."

Audi and Mercedes-Benz are also getting into the hybrid market soon after months of focusing on fuel-efficient diesel engines popular in the European market. BMW and Mercedes may surpass Lexus in U.S. sales for the first time this year in over 10 years.

Lexus got a leg up in the hybrid race from sister company by Toyota’s trailblazing development of hybrid in the Prius. Lexus, whose hybrid lineup includes CT, HS, RX, GS and LS models, ranging from $29,120 to $112,250, reportedly attributes 13 percent of their U.S. sales this year to hybrids, contrasted to less than 1 percent of BMW and Mercedes sales.

Still the combination of gas and electric engines has yet to take a major out of the market as hybrid prices have relegated them to the fringes of the automotive market.

"We see very little demand for the hybrid versions that are currently available because of the price," said Robert Rademacher, head of German auto dealer association ZDK. "We're looking forward to see the reception of the new models."

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