New hybrids proclaim their German engineering

I’m a big fan of “German engineering”–that combined focus on power and precision that distinguishes the better automobiles designed or manufactured in Germany.

At Frankfurt’s International Motor Show, BMW will be showing off two new hybrid cars intended to deliver the full promise of German engineering. This is no small thing because most hybrid cars to date have been lightly built and somewhat underpowered in order to improve fuel economy.

The two new BMWs are more like previous offerings from that company: big, solid cars with lots of power to maintain performance in spite of the weight. They’re also real cars, not just prototypes.

Fortunately, I don’t need to describe these new cars here; there’s a great article by Antuan Goodwin over on CNET’s Car Tech blog that does a fine job of that (see “BMW unveiling two big hybrid models at Frankfurt“). What I would like to do instead is to drill down into their respective powertrains, which represent two different solutions to high-performance hybrid design, using images provided by BMW.

The ActiveHybrid X6, due to go on sale in the U.S. later this year, represents one end of the spectrum: higher-power electric motors and a larger battery pack. As the first image shows, the new X6 model has a twin-turbo V8 gas engine with 400 horsepower. Though this is a reasonably efficient engine for its size, it certainly wasn’t chosen primarily for its fuel economy.

BMW ActiveHybrid X6 cutaway drawing

BMW’s ActiveHybrid X6 uses a large NiMH battery pack and a new transmission with two integrated electric motors to augment its 400-horsepower gasoline engine.

(Credit: BMW)
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