Somewhat lost in the fanfare of BMW introducing a hybrid version of its best-selling 3 Series at the Detroit Auto Show was a brief mention of its new navigation technology. The 2012 ActiveHybrid 3 will be the first hybrid to use its nav system to help predict the best time to use and recharge its battery. This will go well beyond currently available navigation technology that plots economical travel routes based on traffic and speed limits, also incorporating altitude, final destination and other real-time data to wring the most out of those electrons.

For example, suppose there's a big hill on your route. Since the 3 Series hybrid "knows" you will be descending, and thus afforded a good opportunity for recharging, it can drain more of the battery on the way up. BMW says it is still working on the system, but it will be included as a standard feature on the ActiveHybrid 3, and will eventually spread to the ActiveHybrid 5 and other hybrid models. While we don't have much in the way of details, the opportunity here seems pretty vast, effectively allowing the car to hypermile for you.
While that's impressive enough, BMW also tells us that it's toying with the idea of allowing the car to perform similarly even when the navigation system is not in use. This would work by identifying driving patterns from day-to-day. For instance, if you are traveling the same route to work every morning, once you head out on your commute the car would recognize this and make the same sorts of predictions as if you had punched the destination into the navigation system.

Of course, operating in this manner would require the car to track your driving, which opens a whole can of worms regarding privacy. BMW says the 3 Series does not currently have a "black box" to record such data, although its seems that such information could certainly be sent off to reside on a cloud-based server. Regardless, BMW says the concept is still under development.

The ActiveHybrid 3 doesn't go on sale until fall, so BMW has some time left to finish its work. The company didn't say exactly how much benefit you might expect from such a system, and we'd imagine it would vary greatly depending on driving conditions. It did tell us the hybrid 3 Series is expected to return 37 miles per gallon on the highway, and that's before any improvement from the navigation-hybrid integration, as this sort of benefit wouldn't be shown in the fuel economy displayed on the window sticker.

BMW has promised us more information, so hopefully we'll have some follow-up soon.


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  • 15 Comments
      ChrisTT
      • 2 Years Ago
      That's impressive software if it works like advertised.
      sfblog
      • 2 Years Ago
      They stretched the headlights and connected them to the gril to make it easier for people to distinguish it from a 5 Series. Other than that looks damn close. I always picture BMW designing a new body then sending the sample down to a technical design dept to scale it down or up for the next "Series"...Must have "Copied" Audi on this revolutionary process.
      • 2 Years Ago
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      • 2 Years Ago
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      daaviator22
      • 2 Years Ago
      These fog lights look cheap.
      TheDarkKnight
      • 2 Years Ago
      I sure this car will perform well and have awesome technology! I knew it would happen sooner or later but not on a bread and butter car. BMW has dropped the ball tremendously on this one. This car is bad. The fascia on this thing is so forced on. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that this front end just doesn't want to exist with this body side and rear. Who let this go?
        techie69
        • 2 Years Ago
        @TheDarkKnight
        That would be Adrian van Hooydonk, chief designer and understudy to American designer Chris Bangle. That tearduct design cue in the headlight looks like it still doesn't belong there or makes the headlight improperly finnished!
        Agilis
        • 2 Years Ago
        @TheDarkKnight
        Awful straight hood crease is awful. Suggestion: Get rid of the blatant logo and make the hood crease follow into the front fascia.
      natron3030
      • 2 Years Ago
      Why is that car wearing the tiniest sunglasses ever?
      miketim1
      • 2 Years Ago
      I dont like the front end.
      thedriveatfive
      • 2 Years Ago
      I like it except for the strait line front hood crease. They could have extended it to flow above the headlights.
      Jason Allen
      • 2 Years Ago
      It sounds like an awesome new technology, that won't sap driving fun, in the race to get much better fuel economy. It seems like an idea a german would first think of, too. "Vas, me hypermile? Nein! Mien auto ist one who should! Ya?"
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