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BMW 3 Series Hybrid Coming, 5 Series Hybrid Due Out Next Year

BMW is planning to introduce its 5 Series ActiveHybrid next year and deliver a 3 Series hybrid after that. BMW chief Norbert Reithofer told company shareholders yesterday in Munich that, "As early as next year, the new BMW 5-series will also be available as a full hybrid. And we are anticipating the hybridisation of further models series, such as the BMW 3-series."

The 5 Series ActiveHybrid isn't likely to change much from the concept, which debuted at the Geneva Auto Show earlier this year. The concept is powered by a 300-hp inline-six mated to a twin-scroll turbocharger the same unit found in the 535i. This is then combined with a powerful 40kW electric motor (the motor in the 7 Series hybrid is just 15 kW) enabling this version to operate as a full two-mode hybrid. As a result, the Concept 5 Series ActiveHybrid can operate on electric power, gasoline power or a combination of both. The transmission used is an eight-speed automatic.

Currently BMW offers both the X6 and 7 Series hybrids for sale in North America, although the U.S. market is not the main reason for the increased focus on hybrids. According to Reithofer, market pressure in Japan has led to the decision to increase hybrid production. "Sales of hybrid vehicles [in Japan] have skyrocketed," he said. "If you don't have a hybrid in your portfolio, soon you might not be selling any cars in Japan at all."

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