Skip to main content

BMW leaps full force into hybrid competition with the ActiveHybrid 3

Hybrid vehicles are the not the long suit of the company known for the Ultimate Driving Machine, but with the all-new ActiveHyrbrid 3 following on the heels of the ActiveHybrid 5 a new dimension has been entered by Bavarian Motor Works and the world will never be the same again.
Posted: July 7, 2012 - 2:43AM
Author: Don Bain

The all-new BMW ActiveHybrid 3 brings cutting-edge hybrid technology to the quintessential sport sedan for a new take on The Ultimate Driving Machine.

The ActiveHybrid 3 couples BMW’s TwinPower Turbocharged 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder to 8-speed Steptronic automatic transmission plus an electric motor fed by a high-voltage battery to produce 335 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. Brilliant!

In addition to boosting the internal combustion engine, the electric motor is capable of indepently powering the ActiveHybrid 3 with zero emissions at speeds up to 45 mph for distances up to 2.5 miles – as far as most of those forgotten item or depleted necessity jaunts we all make from time to time.

This remarkable new 2013 BMW ActiveHybrid 3 will arrive in US showrooms this fall at a base price of $50,195 including destination charges.

An Electric motor and eight-speed transmission in the same component

BMW expands access to its intelligent hybrid drive technology with this ActiveHybrid production model. It still has front-engine and rear-wheel drive configuration just like a classic sports sedan, but now with an electric motor andeight-speed Steptronic tranny that power the vehicle.

The BMW ActiveHybrid 3 uses a lithium-ion high-voltage battery placed beneath the luggage compartment, adding precisely controlled and superbly efficient fuel economy.

The ultimate result is bringing the benefits and power of parallel hybrid technology to bear on the vehicles the world has come to love and covet.

The BMW ActiveHybrid 3 follow in the tire prints of the BMW ActiveHybrid 5 using an in-line 6-cylinder engine. The same engine that’s in the 335i, the engine outputs 300 hp at 5,800 rpm and a matching torque of 300 lb-ft from 1,200 to 5,000 rpm. This new hybrid technology is winning new converts from the ranks of Beamer enthusiasts on a daily basis.

This engine has already won the international Engine of the Year award two years consecutively. The BMW TwinPower Turbo technology utilizes a twin-scroll turbocharger, high precision direct injection and VALVETRONIC variable valve timing.

This combination reportedly improves throttle response and revving, as well as handling refinement and efficiency. An al-aluminum crankcase also helps to reduce the vehicle’s weight.

Eager power delivery in a compact design
The BMW ActiveHybrid 3’s electric motor produces and additional 55 hp on its own, as well as allowing all-electric operation for short distances. On the highway, it provides a welcome a performance-boost function for more authoritative acceleration. In both case, power is delivered on demand with no hesitation. Like all electric motors, this one develops its full torque (155 lb.-ft.) from a standstill.

Remarkably, the electric motor is housed within the eight-speed automatic transmission, and is connected by a clutch.
Its operating temperature is controlled by the same cooling system that regulates the combustion engine. Internal efficiency, low weight and the automatic transmission all contribute to a highly efficient powertrain.

Eight speeds provide a wide range of gears with close ratio spacing. It also allows greater usefulness of top gear for very efficient, low-rpm driving. While direct downshifts and quick shifts can also lead to an exhilarating driving experience, too.
The high-performance of the transmission assures gear changes are closely matched to the driver’s input and ambient cond[tions.

For the genine enthusiast, the BMW ActiveHybrid 3 has an optional quick-shifting sports transmission, with dynamic characteristics accessed via a selector lever and paddle shifters.

Ready Lithium-ion high-voltage power
The electric motor uses a lithium-ion high-voltage battery, developed specifically for this model. Encased in a high-strength housing between the rear wheel arches ensures dependable battery protection while helping to ensure a stability engendering weight distribution. The battery cooling system is part and parcel of the air conditioning system. The battery is comprised of 96 cells storing a total of 675 Wh.

In addition to the 14V electrical system, the BMW ActiveHybrid 3 is also equipped with a high-voltage electrical system cranking out 317 volts, linked by a voltage transformer. The two systems maintain maximum electrical reserves throughout the operating range supplying improved performance and comfort.

Both the electric motor and the air conditioning compressor are powered exclusively by the lithium-ion high-voltage battery, meaning the air conditioner is never a drag on the system.

ECO Pro mode promotes green driving
ECO PRO mode can be activated to support an exceedingly fuel-efficient driving style making more frequent use of all-electric mode. ECO PRO changes aspects of the powertrain and transmission, while all electrically powered conveniences are programmed for optimal energy use.

In coasting mode, a new development for the BMW ActiveHybrid 3 and other BMW hybrids, adds to efficiency by shutting off the gasoline engine when the vehicle is stationary or at residential speeds. Then, the BMW ActiveHybrid 3 coasts soundlessly, with zero emissions and no engine braking effect. Efficiency is further enhanced by reduced rolling resistance tires.

In ECO PRO mode, coasting is available at any speed up to 100 mph, while in comfort mode coasting is operational between 37 and 50 mph when the brakes are applied lightly.

The coasting function is not available in Sport or Sport+ mode. Nevertheless, when coasting, all safety and comfort functions are fully active.
Energy management with proactive analysis of the navigational horizon.

The advanced-design power electronics of the BMW ActiveHybrid 3 not only coordinates operation of the engine and electric motor based on the current driving situation, but also watches the road ahead for even more efficient use of energy.

This process involves linking the control electronics to the optional navigation system. Once a destination is input and route guidance activated, the system analyze data to take full advantage of upcoming changes in external conditions or driver requirements, like grades. Thus based and subject to the navigational data, the vehicle is prepared in advance for imminent road changes so all powertrain systems and onboard electronics are expertly managed to make the most efficient use of the energy available.

Both topography and speed limits factor in to change how the powertrain operates. If the system is aware a downhill stretch is impending, the BMW ActiveHybrid 3 will hold off recharging to put the battery’s electrical energy toward driving power, as the battery will be recharged free during descent.

During longer descents the electric motor can recharge the high-voltage battery without any speed lost. This strategy can also be managed to achieve optimal charging near the journey’s end.

The status of the battery and other components is shown via intuitive, model-specific displays. Showing flow and energy recuperation, these gauges also reveal the boost provided by the electric motor during acceleration.

We’ve driven a lot of hybrids over the last 11 years, but have yet to lay hands on one from the makers of the ultimate driving machines. The chance to drive either of the currently planned BMW hybrids is anticipated with great delight, and the BMW ActiveHybrid 3 is no exception.

Shaq may have shoes bigger than most hybrids, but they certainly are not more stylish than the BMW ActiveHybrid 3.

Keep them coming BMW. We’ll drive more!!!