During a preview this week of the new 5-series Gran Turismo, BMW
North America product planning manager Martin Birkmann revealed that the vehicle would include brake energy regeneration when it arrives in the U.S. this fall. BMW has been including its regenerative braking system
on numerous models in Europe for two years, but this will be the first North American application. The Gran Turismo is a new body style for the 5-series and it won't include a hybrid
version, at least at first. However, the alternator includes an electronically controlled clutch that disengages it from the engine during acceleration or cruising. When the driver lifts off gas, the clutch engages and the alternator is driven from the drive wheels through the engine and transmission. Along with a heavy duty battery that powers the vehicle electrical systems during acceleration and then gets charged during coasting or braking, the system
contributes up to a two percent improvement in fuel efficiency
. The system is part of BMW's suite of efficient dynamics technologies, including electrical steering assist and an electric cooling pump. Now that the 5-series GT is bringing brake energy regeneration to America, it should spread to other models soon.