When we first saw the BMW ActiveHybrid 7 Concept and its conceptual 5 Series sibling, we immediately got the sneaking suspicion that the car wouldn't be the last Bavarian with a battery pack. Now it looks like the 3 Series will be the next in the company's stable to get the electric motor treatment. While speaking with shareholders, BMW head-honcho Norbert Reithofer let it slip that we'll be seeing a hybrid version of the company's bread and butter 3 Series fairly soon. When is that, exactly? It's hard to judge from Reithofer's statement, but given that the 5 Series hybrid is slated for sale next year, we would guess the tech-laded 3 will pop up in 2012.

BMW says that its biggest motivation for spreading hybrid tech amongst its models isn't emissions standards. Instead, the German manufacturer said that demand in Japan spurred the move. According to Reithofer, most Japanese consumers won't take the time to look at a brand unless there are multiple hybrid options on the showroom floor.

While the move is mostly sales based, it won't hurt the company's goal of cutting CO2 emissions by 25 percent between now and 2020.

[Source: Autocar]