I wouldn't fly too fast and loose with the word "perfect," however. Exactly how the system works is nearly impossible to decipher, but it does include no less than three planetary gear sets to engage and disengage the right motors at the right time. The motors are "high-powered," though no figures are quoted. In fact, despite the system being so complicated, it is only expected to reap a 20 percent fuel economy increase. Not that that isn't swell and all, but I start to wonder if perhaps it was over-engineered when the press release says that the first electric motor acts as a generator connected to the ICE, feeding the battery pack or the second electric motor. As efficient as new electric motors are, they still lose about 20 percent to heat at least. That's 40 percent of your power gone from those two energy conversions.
The release also claims that the X6 is the perfect vehicle to debut this technology with because it combines the looks of a coupe, practicality of a sedan and off-road capability of the other X models into its own created niche. Well, if this is the only BMW to get the ActiveHybrid system for a while, at least there's one reason for people to buy Chris Bangle's BMontiac X-Aztek.
Get out your decoder rings and read the press release after the jump.
AN INNOVATIVE HYBRID CONCEPT LIKE NO OTHER IN THE WORLD: THE BMW CONCEPT X6 ACTIVEHYBRID SPORTS ACTIVITY COUPE
Woodcliff Lake, NJ - January 13, 2008... In addition to the world debut of its all-new X6 Sports Activity Coupe at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show, BMW will also present the North American debut of an innovative hybrid concept like no other in the world -- the BMW Concept X6 ActiveHybrid. The vehicle is the world's first Sports Activity Coupe to feature a unique design of hybrid drive like never seen before, combining Sheer Driving Pleasure with significant enhancement of all-round efficiency.
Through its drive concept alone, the BMW Concept X6 ActiveHybrid allows far greater driving dynamics than a conventional hybrid car and at the same time reduces fuel consumption by up to 20 percent versus a comparable car running on a combustion engine alone.
The innovative drivetrain and the unique concept of the Sports Activity Coupe form an ideal match that is unparalleled anywhere in the world. BMW ActiveHybrid technology has indeed been developed especially for a particularly dynamic vehicle in this segment and for extensive use far beyond city traffic.
In terms of its size, character and driving dynamics, the BMW X6 Sports Activity Coupe is simply ideal for bringing out the full potential of BMW ActiveHybrid technology, combining an elegant and dynamically flowing roofline with the features so typical of a BMW X model. Its design clearly epitomizes the full DNA of BMW X, while interpreting the character of these vehicles in a uniquely sporting manner.
Combining the qualities of electric drive and BMW driving dynamics to provide an unprecedented driving experience.
BMW ActiveHybrid combines a combustion engine with two high-performance electric motors, taking advantage of the greater efficiency of hybrid technology over a much larger speed range than with conventional hybrid vehicles. The specific features and characteristics of BMW's electric drive, combined with the proven features of BMW's combustion engine, allows BMW ActiveHybrid to provide a unique driving experience that is unavailable anywhere else.
The benefits and capabilities of the electric drivetrain can be felt instantly, responding precisely and immediately to the driver when setting off. Then, continuing the process of acceleration, the BMW Concept X6 ActiveHybrid offers a perfect symbiosis of required drivetrain performance and appropriate touch-based and acoustic feedback to the driver at a level never seen before in a hybrid vehicle. The result is a driving experience that provides dynamic development of power and performance so typical of a BMW engine interacting with the particularly precise and fast-acting automatic transmission-at all speeds.
BMW ActiveHybrid: the next step in the BMW EfficientDynamics development strategy.
Offering enhancement of both all-round economy and driving dynamics, the BMW Concept X6 ActiveHybrid fits perfectly into the BMW EfficientDynamics development strategy. Indeed, implementing this strategy with full consistency, BMW is able to offer cars in all segments through the current model range, ranking right at the top against the competition in terms of both performance and efficiency.
BMW ActiveHybrid is a core part of the BMW EfficientDynamics development strategy. Introducing this technology, BMW is taking the next step in consistently reducing both fuel consumption and emissions. BMW ActiveHybrid is based on a modular principle following the strategy of "Best of Hybrid" to integrate the optimum components in each case in various vehicle concepts. And pursuing this strategy, BMW-with its first full-hybrid vehicle-is now taking the next step towards lasting and sustainable mobility based on Sheer Driving Pleasure.
The BMW Concept X6 ActiveHybrid is the result of the consistent development of attractive vehicle concepts and drivetrain technologies. A pioneer in the Sports Activity Vehicle (SAV) segment, BMW has already revolutionized the market by innovating in a completely brand-new segment, where previously there was only the sports utility vehicle (SUV). And given their supreme agility and driving dynamics, both the BMW X5 and the BMW X3 have now gained a dominating position in this segment.
Now, the concept of a Sports Activity Coupe shows how the range of BMW X models so successful the world over might be enlarged by another exclusive variant, while providing the opportunity to experience the sporting performance so typical of the brand in a completely new style.
Furthermore, BMW's outstanding competence in the area of drivetrain development is setting the basis for combining an innovative driving experience with outstanding efficiency. Once again, BMW is becoming the trendsetter in a market segment that shows particularly dynamic growth.
A hybrid vehicle with that typical BMW character requires innovative technology.
The objective to combine that Sheer Driving Pleasure so typical of BMW with a significant reduction of fuel consumption and emissions in BMW's first full hybrid, called for the development of innovative technology offering a synthesis of the combustion engine and the electric motor.
To make this process of development as efficient as possible, the BMW Group has joined forces with General Motors and DaimlerChrysler to form the Global Hybrid Cooperation, serving to develop the next generation of hybrid drive systems. These three equal partners pool their know-how and resources in the GM, Daimler, Chrysler and BMW Hybrid Development Center in Troy (Michigan, USA), concentrating in the process on a flexible system concept allowing each of the companies involved to integrate the particular concept, design and construction of their cars in the new technology, focusing on the specific features of each brand. This is precisely why the technology of the two-mode active transmission, created through this cooperation, is part of the BMW ActiveHybrid modular development system.
Optimized use of energy and superior power in every situation.
The innovative active transmission featured by the BMW Concept X6 ActiveHybrid combines two compact, high-performance electric motors with a transmission using fixed transmission ratios. These drive systems are connected to one another by three planetary gearsets allowing a power split covering the drive forces of the combustion engine and the electric motors in two transmission modes. Thus, a level of variability that is quite impossible to achieve on a conventional hybrid drivetrain is ensured thanks to the combination of the two drive sources, which are able to provide optimum power and maximum efficiency under all driving conditions and power requirements from the driver.
The system, referred to as the two-mode active transmission on account of its two operating modes, also consists of a high-performance battery, power electronics with an integrated inverter module and the required cables.
The two-mode active transmission is based on an electrical continuously variable transmission mode (ECVT). The two operating modes-one of which has been optimized for low-, the other for high-speeds-are supplemented by fixed transmission ratios.
The two power-split ECVT sections allow the drivetrain to run at continuously variable speeds and ensure full, highly efficient hybrid functions throughout the complete operating range of the vehicleperformance typical to a BMW. As a result, the innovative system in the BMW Concept X6 ActiveHybrid serves to reduce fuel consumption by up to 20 percent in relation to a comparable BMW running on a combustion engine alone.
Furthermore, with the two-mode system, the electric motors are very compact in size-facilitating integration into the overall vehicle and minimizing an increase in weight, which in the case of the BMW Concept X6 ActiveHybrid, is lower than conventional hybrid cars offering comparable power.
The BMW Concept X6 ActiveHybrid can be driven on electric power only, on the combustion engine alone or with a combination of both power units. Depending on driving conditions, the electric motors may also be used for both accelerating and regenerative application of the brakes, in which case the brake forces generated when coasting and when applying the brakes flow to the high-volt energy storage unit to provide an increase in electric power.
This energy, subsequently available for further use, need not be generated by the combustion engine and is therefore available virtually free of charge.
Already using this principle in a similar manner on production cars featuring Brake Energy Regeneration, BMW is able to ensure efficient energy management and maintain the battery at a high charge level. On the road, the support provided by the electric motors in this way, referred to as "boosting," serves first to give the vehicle incomparable spontaneity and a direct response; and second, to significantly reduce fuel consumption.
BMW ActiveHybrid comes in where conventional hybrid drive reaches its limit.
Conventional hybrid systems allow efficient motoring only in relatively small or medium-sized vehicles at relatively low speeds. This is because most of the power coming from the combustion engine has to be conveyed most of the time via the electrical path of the transmission and because of the use of a high level of electric power. A car with enhanced dynamics, performance and running speeds would therefore require a larger combustion engine calling for less efficient, larger and heavier electric motors.
In the power split drive mode, also referred to as the output branched concept, one of the two electric motors acts as a generator, converting some of the engine's power into electrical current, subsequently fed to the battery or the second electric motor. The second electric motor then converts such power coming from the first electric motor or from the battery back into mechanical power for the output drive shaft on the transmission.
Two-mode technology varies the balance of electrical and mechanical energy on the respective paths for optimum efficiency.
Conventional hybrid drive systems do not come with fixed mechanical transmission ratios, which would serve to optimize fuel consumption. Instead, to their disadvantage, they use a continuously variable transmission which actually requires that performance and load feedback from the car are separated from one another, thus failing to provide a dynamic driving impression.
The two-mode active transmission, by contrast, overcomes and eliminates the disadvantages of a conventional hybrid drivetrain. It reduces the share of power flowing through the electrical branch of the transmission throughout a broad range of transmission ratios. Through its power split in two transmission modes, the two-mode active transmission provides the energy of both electric motors in an ideal form tailored to current driving conditions.
BMW ActiveHybrid: the result of years of research.
The principle of the two-mode active transmission in the BMW Concept X6 ActiveHybrid forms a significant milestone in BMW's ActiveHybrid strategy, fulfilling the demands made by a broad range of customers looking for a dynamic, economical and responsible form of motoring.
To reach this goal BMW pursues a clear-cut "Best of Hybrid" strategy, enabling use of the optimum components under a modular principle within a wide range of different vehicle concepts planned for the future. Parallel to the Global Hybrid Cooperation, the BMW Group has therefore entered into yet another joint venture with the Mercedes Car Group of Daimler, developing components for hybrid drive in the luxury performance sedan.
BMW started to develop hybrid drives many years ago, long before the foundation of the Global Hybrid Cooperation. Indeed, BMW tested the electric drivetrain as early as in the late 1980s, for example in the BMW E1. And the BMW Group has been conducting research on hybrid technology and its various options for more than 15 years, making this technology and the results already obtained a firm part of the BMW X5 EfficientDynamics development strategy.
In the meantime, the BMW Group has presented several hybrid vehicle concepts, starting with a hybrid car in 1995 based on the BMW 518i. In particular, the outstanding potential of this drive technology has been proven in the BMW X5 EfficientDynamics presented in 2003 and the BMW Concept X3 EfficientDynamics shown to the world in 2005.
With the introduction of the BMW Concept X6 ActiveHybrid, BMW is proudly presenting the highest degree of maturity in hybrid technology seen so far. Indeed, this technology offers everything it takes to combine extremely efficient motoring with that Sheer Driving Pleasure so typical of BMW.
A clear sign of the special status of the BMW ActiveHybrid concept is the presentation of this technology in combination with a brand new type of vehicle: The BMW Concept X6 ActiveHybrid is the unusually attractive vision of a truly innovative vehicle virtually predestined for such cutting-edge drivetrain technology.
A thrilling team: BMW ActiveHybrid and the world's first Sports Activity Coupe.
The BMW Concept X6 ActiveHybrid establishes a new benchmark right from the start through the innovative combination of design and concept features. Four doors and the smooth, dynamic coupe roofline interact with a high window line and extra-muscular wheel arches ensuring permanent presence and a perfect balance of the front and rear axle as a clear reference to all-wheel drive.
At the front, the BMW Concept X6 ActiveHybrid is dominated by design elements symbolizing the vehicle's dynamic orientation to the road, while from the side the vehicle's proportions are particularly elegant and well-balanced. The short front body overhang emphasizes the dynamic character of the vehicle, while the long overhang at the rear highlights the stretched and sleek appearance of the vehicle.
Moved far to the back and with the roofline dropping down visibly and continuously from the B-pillar, the greenhouse, together with the high window line, ensures flat and low-slung window graphics.
The roofline flows down gently to the contour lip at the rear, finally merging into a slight upward swing perfecting the Coupe line and at the same time optimizing the vehicle's streamlining. The rear look of the BMW Concept X6 ActiveHybrid is split by horizontal lines, making the vehicle look wider and emphasizing its road stability.
A muscular bumper and the protective cover for the underfloor are further classic design elements characteristic of a BMW X vehicle. And last but not least, the proportions so typical of a coupe are exhibited here in particular style typical of a BMW X model, among other elements, through the muscular and elegant shoulders.
A typical BMW also in design.
The BMW Concept X6 ActiveHybrid is clearly recognizable as a BMW from every angle. All design features clearly exhibit classic BMW design, with the focus primarily on those sculptural lines so characteristic of all BMW X models.
The front, side and rear body sections flow smoothly and directly into one another, with additional highlighting design elements typical of the brand, ranging from the BMW kidney grill through the dual round headlights with their cut contour and the powerful contour line at the side all the way to the horizontal lines at the rear.
Following the usual philosophy of a BMW X vehicle, the wheel arches show slightly square contours offering space for 21-inch light-alloy wheels in Y-spoke design created especially for the BMW Concept X6 ActiveHybrid. This is indeed a brand-new rendition of such three-dimensional rims with the individual spokes showing recessed surfaces not only at the top, but also further down towards the inner sections of the wheel.
The exterior mirrors on the BMW Concept X6 ActiveHybrid are likewise brand-new in their design-a white, shimmering row of lights standing out between the lower element, finished in body color and the upper section of the mirror cap made of aluminum. Supplementing the corona rings in the headlights so typical of BMW, these additional lights also provide a daytime light function.
The unique character of the BMW Concept X6 ActiveHybrid is also exhibited in the design of the rear lights, where the L-shape so typical of a BMW X model is re-interpreted in a particularly dynamic, sweeping motion. Extending far into the side panels, the rear lights also serve to emphasize the overall width of the vehicle in its night design.
Front and rear: clear signals for efficient motoring.
The truly authentic and unique features of the BMW Concept X6 ActiveHybrid's unmistakable design are apparent at first sight. Through its look alone this concept vehicle arouses the greatest expectations of the driving experience in such a Sports Activity Coupe. It clearly underlines the robust character and superior traction of a BMW X model in combination with dynamic driving qualities never seen before in this segment.
As soon as the electric motors take over in full and provide all the drive power required, a visual representation of optimized combustion and emission ratings is proudly displayed at the back of the vehicle. Since the underfloor protection panel, made of brushed aluminum, both front and rear is a moving element on the BMW Concept X6 ActiveHybrid, as soon as the vehicle is running entirely on electric power, the rear protection panel moves up to cover the two tailpipes on the exhaust system-as long as they are not required for their normal purpose.
The innovative philosophy of the BMW Concept X6 ActiveHybrid proves that large and dynamic vehicles can also be driven economically, with a clear focus on the environment, while simultaneously reaching new horizons in terms of driving pleasure and aesthetic design.
Not only does the BMW Concept X6 ActiveHybrid offer a particularly high standard of efficiency, but it also provides enhanced driving dynamics-a concept that meets the high standards of BMW EfficientDynamics in every respect. Indeed, the BMW Concept X6 ActiveHybrid ensures progress on all levels in terms of driving dynamics, in its all-round economy and design.