BMW will start selling a performance-oriented hybrid 5-series sedan next March, taking another shot at the luxury-hybrid market, after discontinuing the impractical and expensive ActiveHybrid X6 Crossover, which sold a dismal 30 units in the U.S. in the first six months of 2011.
Based the 535i sedan, BMW's ActiveHybrid 5 will pair the turbocharged in-line six-cylinder engine with an electric motor to deliver a combined 335 horsepower and propel the car from 0 to 60 in 5.7 seconds. BMW will announce pricing closer to the March 24 launch, but spokesman Dave Buchko told AutoObserver said the model will start "considerably lower" than the $88,900 ActiveHybrid X6 turkey. The conventional 5-series starts at about $47,000 and accounted for 22 percent of BMW sales in the United States so far this year.
The automaker hasn’t yet provided fuel efficiency estimates for the new hybrid. But when it first showed off the ActiveHybrid 5-series in Geneva last spring, BMW estimated that it would get about 10 percent better fuel economy than the conventional 5-series sedans. That would put the ActiveHybrid 5's fuel economy in the neighborhood of 27-miles-per-gallon. BMW said the ActiveHybrid 5 will be able to use its battery power alone at speeds of up to 37 miles per hour and will be able to travel up to 2.5 miles at a 22-mile-per-hour clip before the gasoline engine kicks on. What use this would be to the average driver is unclear, unless perhaps he or she needs to leave the scene of an illicit tryst, without waking the neighbors.
The Active-Hybrid 5 marks an attempt by BMW to generate sales in a market that so far has vexed luxury automakers who'd banked on demand for high-end hybrid sports sedans and crossovers that offer only marginally better fuel economy than their gas-powered counterparts. Through the first eight months of the year, Lexus sold just 244 of its GS 450h and LS 600h L hybrid sports sedans combined, while Mercedes sold only 357 of its S-Class hybrids, according to data compiled by Edmunds.com. By comparison, Toyota moved almost 84,000 Prius hybrids.
"It seems like kind of a headache, from the manufacturers' standpoint," said Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst at Edmunds.com. "Even when gas prices were up to $4 a gallon, (luxury hybrids) sill weren't moving the needle."
Back to the drawing board, gentlemen.—Paul DucheneBack to News