BMW targets 100km electric range for its next hybrids

Will you want an electric car if your BMW plug-in hybrid can cover your daily driving needs without fuel?

MUNICH — BMW is working on plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) that will cover 100 kilometres on battery power alone. Michael Obermeier, the Project Manager, BMW PHEV Powertrain, says that distance will allow a plug-in car to cover the daily driving needs of most people.

PHEVs have an electric motor and battery for short distances at a limited speed, with a petrol engine for maximum performance and range. To get the most out of the technology, users have to charge them from an external power source.

“In the future, the target is to reach around about 100 kilometres of electric range in a plug-in hybrid car because we think, and our studies say, it’s basically the daily travel distance of people,” Mr Obermeier said at BMW Electric Days, a virtual press conference about the German carmaker’s e-mobility plans.

Most of BMW’s plug-in models travel around half that distance today before needing to switch to petrol power. Among its PHEV cars, the current electric range champion is the X5 xDrive45e (below).

BMW says it covers 67 to 87km on battery power, based on standard WLTP consumption tests.

Raising e-drive range to 100km would make particular sense for urban dwellers, Mr Obermeier said. “We know that the biggest number of people in big cities have less than 30 kilometres from their home to their job, and so you can drive this electrically and then you have the gasoline engine which you can use to increase your range,” he said.

BMW is already aiming for that target with its next generation of PHEVs, he said, but will most likely stop there because beyond 100km, a battery electric vehicle (BEV) without a petrol engine would be sensible.

“In theory we see around 100 kilometres makes sense perhaps for the next generation, and that meets the target of a hybrid customer. If you need more electric range, then a BEV car will be the right choice for you,” he said.

BMW touts its PHEV cars as the best of best worlds, but its engineers clearly believe that 100km is where one world ends and another begins.

PAID CONTENT: We drove a plug-in X3 and a petrol X3 around Singapore in convoy to test their fuel consumption. TLDR: PHEV tech really works, but how well it works really surprised us. Watch how well the plug-in X3 did…

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Leow Julen
CarBuyer's managing editor is a lot older than he behaves. He's been writing about cars for 26 years. Someday he might do it coherently. Ju-Len believes in world peace and V8s, but not necessarily in that order.