Spy shots: BMW 1-series hybrid spotted in Munich

BMW 1 Series Hybrid - Click above for high-res image gallery

At the launch of the BMW X6 ActiveHybrid, officials acknowledged the automaker would be producing several additional hybrid models in the near future. Rumors have been floating around that the new 5 Series -- due to launch in 2010 -- will get the same mild hybrid system going into the ActiveHybrid 7 and its crossover counterpart, but what about BMW's smaller offerings?

Testing near Munich, a BMW 1 Series mule was caught wearing "Hybrid Test Vehicle" badging, proving that BMW's hybrid system won't be used exclusively on its larger models. Given the small size of the 1, this will undoubtedly use a version of the same mild hybrid system, a modular setup that has the motor/generator sandwiched between the engine and transmission with a compact lithium ion battery in the rear.

The 1 Series hybrid will take on the production version of the Lexus LF-Ch concept recently shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show when it hits the market in late 2011 or early 2012. The Lexus is similar in size to the 1er, but will only be offered as a hybrid, while the 1 will retain conventional powertrain options. There's no word whether the Lexus or the 1 Series Hybrid will make it onto U.S. shores, but if both automakers plan to recoup development expenses, sales in North America are almost assured.

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