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BMW is planning a more fuel-efficient future

Automotive News reports on BMW's product plans.


Automotive News

BMW has filled the pipeline with hybrids, electric vehicles and even four-cylinder engines in the coming decade.

It is also expanding its range. A large model based on the 5 series, which will debut this year, blurs the line between crossovers and hatchbacks. A small crossover targeted at the Honda CR-V will land here in 2010.

Here are highlights of BMW's product plans.

Electric vehicles: BMW will introduce a range of environmentally friendly cars. The first is being developed by a small internal operation called Project i. It is expected in 2012 or 2013 and likely will be a small vehicle aimed at urban drivers. The environmentally friendly vehicles will be a sub-brand of BMW like its M performance vehicles. Project i vehicles are to be sold in the United States.

1 series: The redesigned 1 series is scheduled to arrive in Europe in 2011. U.S. sales could start in 2011 or 2012. A four-door and a coupe may be added to the U.S. lineup.

3 series: A redesign is planned for 2012, and BMW may offer a four-cylinder version again. Jim O'Donnell, CEO of BMW of North America, says a version with a twin-turbocharged, direct-injection, four-cylinder gasoline engine is being considered for the United States. BMW has not offered a four-cylinder here since the 318ti flopped in 1999.

The new 3-series platform is expected to yield more derivatives, including a crossover similar to the 5-series Gran Turismo.

BMW 5-series Gran Turismo
BMW showed its 5-series Gran Turismo at the 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

5 series: The redesigned sedan will debut in 2010. Spy photos suggest that the car's lines have been softened and that front-end styling will be similar to the Gran Turismo. The redesigned 5 series is being developed on a new platform that is longer than today's 5 series. ZF's eight-speed automatic transmission is expected to be offered.

5-series Gran Turismo: BMW calls it a crossover, but enthusiasts might label it a tall five-door hatchback. The Gran Turismo is the same length as the short-wheelbase 7-series sedan. U.S. sales begin this year.

The Gran Turismo will be positioned between the 5- and 7-series sedans. The four-passenger vehicle was unveiled last month at the Frankfurt auto show. If it is successful, the 5-series wagon may be dropped from the U.S. lineup.

7 series: The redesigned sedan went on sale this year with BMW's new family of direct-injection, twin-turbocharged V-8 engines. All-wheel-drive models will debut late this year.

The long-wheelbase 760Li will be introduced this year with a 535-hp V-12 engine teamed with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The ActiveHybrid 7 debuted last month at the Frankfurt show, and U.S. sales will begin next spring. The 7-series model has a twin-turbocharged, direct-injection V-8 engine and an electric motor that combine for 465 hp. BMW expects a 15 percent increase in fuel economy over the nonhybrid powertrain.

Z4: The redesigned roadster, which debuted in the spring, has a retractable hard top.

X1: BMW's new small crossover, which debuted last month at the Frankfurt show, will be sold in the United States late next year. The X1 is expected to compete with the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.

X3: The redesigned crossover debuts early in 2011 and is expected to be nearly as large as the original X5. The new X3 will be built in Spartanburg, S.C. The current-generation X3 is assembled by supplier Magna Steyr in Austria.

X5: An M performance model with a 555-hp, 4.4-liter V-8 goes on sale this fall.

A freshening is planned in 2011.

X6: BMW says the ActiveHybrid X6, which goes on sale this year, consumes 20 percent less fuel than a nonhybrid X6. The power train combines a 407-hp, twin-turbocharged V-8 engine with two electric motors. One produces 91 hp and other produces 86 hp. The vehicle can travel up to 37 mph on the electric motor.

(Source: Automotive News)