So here's something interesting. This might look like an ordinary BMW X1, but take a closer glance – those stickers on the side read "hybrid test vehicle," and around back, there doesn't appear to be a tailpipe at all. But does this mean that BMW is working on a straight-up all-electric version of its smallest crossover? Let's hypothesize for a moment.

Just because we can't see a tailpipe in these photographs doesn't mean there isn't one somewhere under there. And while those hybrid stickers are an indication that there's some sort of electrification going on underhood, it could just be for a forthcoming gasoline-electric version of the X1. Lexus recently confirmed it would be bringing a small hybrid CUV to market that will compete in the X1's space, so perhaps BMW is working on another powertrain option to offer when its littlest crossover gets refreshed.

Also consider that Toyota collaborated with Tesla to bring back the RAV4 EV, which would sort of compete with the X1, so it also stands to reason that perhaps this is an early test mule for a larger all-electric vehicle in the upcoming, eco-minded BMW i range. Our spies seem pretty confident that the prototype seen here is indeed an all-out EV, but we just can't say with certainty without more evidence.

Look through the shots in our high-resolution gallery above and give us your best guess in the comments.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 24 Comments
      lostjr123
      • 2 Years Ago
      Active E (1 coupe) is already on the road in the US, so I don't know what would be the big deal. http://www.bmwusa.com/activee
        Rich
        • 2 Years Ago
        @lostjr123
        The E82e (Active E) is a beta test car that failed, thats why this is a big deal.
          Rich
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rich
          Mainly, I physically work on them daily/weekly... aside from actually & factually work for the reich, you're right, I have no real opinion. The E82e (Active E) was released to the US market as a test "mule" as you say. Every 3months/5K miles we have to remove the motor/trans/rear subframe in order to 'inspect' all the components. Its about a 15-25% failure rate of the motor/trans splines. I admit, this is pre-mass production... Some call me an optimist, BMW is one of the last companies that puts the R&D time into critical systems... hence releasing a Beta-test car to the public and asking them to download an App to contribute to the "process". Fun and sometimes beautiful vehicles, but not a readily available for the US-market.
      BG
      • 2 Years Ago
      It's rather an odd concept to try to make an electric vehicle that will work well in low temperatures. That is where the chemical energy of a petroleum fuel has an incredible weight-to-power advantage.
        mustang_sallad
        • 2 Years Ago
        @BG
        I think it would be a rather odd concept to make an electric vehicle that only works in warm temperatures.
      Deneway
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is the BMW with Prius technology as envisaged by their agreement with Toyota
      Carguy
      • 2 Years Ago
      A range extended EV version of this car would do well. I do agree that front hood is too long and not needed for an EV but maybe they can add a Frunk like the Tesla S. The i3 is built more as an EV but some people will want a BMW that looks like a regular BMW.
      desinerd1
      • 2 Years Ago
      Looks ugly... like most German cars.
      2 wheeled menace
      • 2 Years Ago
      Shut up and take our money, BMW.
      desinerd1
      • 2 Years Ago
      hopefully this one won't catch fire
      paulwesterberg
      • 2 Years Ago
      Too much hood, you don't need a huge nose on an electric car. Also the large grill openings can go. The right rear seems like an inconvenient choice for the charge port.
        BG
        • 2 Years Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        Traditionally the long hood was necessary to fit a straight 6 (or straight 8) engine. But you are right, now that most companies make those pug-nosed V6s, you may as well shorten the hood.
        Smoking_dude
        • 2 Years Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        It is an GERMAN design. German Magazines keep telling that EVs are dorky and egg shaped slow vehicles. A prius is a seldom view in Germany it turns heads. Way to futuristic. A DECENT CAR has a loog hood (wasted space) and an big grille. The grill is your crest that you show proudly.
      MTN RANGER
      • 2 Years Ago
      There is only a right rear charge port. I don't see any other openings, so I would guess that it is purely electric. The i3 has the port in the same location.
      jamsbong
      • 2 Years Ago
      Just like the previous X1, this new one looks absolutely hideous! Why can't BMW learn from Porsche? Porsche's new Cayenne, boxster looks really cool; an enormous improvement over the previous gen.
      desinerd1
      • 2 Years Ago
      What happened to the i3 and i8? Weren't those supposed to launch in 2011 or 2012?
        mustang_sallad
        • 2 Years Ago
        @desinerd1
        BMW has already announced i3 availability at the end of 2013, with US sales starting in Jan 2014. Not sure about the i8, but based on spy shots, it seems to be progressing at a more or less similar pace as the i3.
      Patrick
      • 2 Years Ago
      So is this the BMW 11?
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