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Old 06-04-2010, 04:33 PM   #1 (permalink)
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2010 BMW ActiveHybrid X6: First Drive

When rival automakers collaborate on future technologies, there's a huge risk involved. Trying to merge workforces, corporate cultures, language and time-zone issues all fight against the potential gains. The recent tie-up between Daimler and Renault-Nissan promises great things, but could seriously blow up in everybody's face.

The BMW ActiveHybrid X6 is the fruition of the long, expensive and unsuccessful partnership with (then) Daimler/Chrysler and General Motors to create a hybrid-electric powertrain that would be suitable for use in large, heavy trucks and SUVs. It's the same system found in GM's Tahoe/Yukon/Escalade triplets, the Silverado and Sierra pickups, and the Chrysler Aspen/Dodge Durango sport-utes. However, the only model to find any measure of success in that pile is the Escalade; the rest either languish on dealer lots because the price premium is too high, or the models are killed altogether, like the Aspen and Durango.

Putting this highly complex and expensive system on a vehicle as in-your-face as the X6 says more about BMW's feelings on the matter than any press release. Making your niche model exponentially more niche-y is a sure way to lose money. But this way, BMW can write off the loss as an investment in burnishing its 'green' credentials with those who think "Hybrid" must mean "good for the environment."

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