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BMW unveils the 5-series hybrid

BMW announced specifications and released photos of a new hybrid coming to its lineup, the ActiveHybrid 5. This car joins the ActiveHybrid 7, using BMW's new hybrid system to generate extra power and get better fuel economy.

BMW ActiveHybrid 5
BMW's new ActiveHybrid 5 is based on the 535i, but gets more power and better fuel economy. BMW

The push is on for automakers to increase fuel economy and reduce CO2 emissions, two goals that go hand in hand. BMW meets this challenge with a new hybrid for its model lineup, the ActiveHybrid 5, joining the current ActiveHybrid 7.

The ActiveHybrid 5 is based on the 5 Series, specifically the 535i. BMW added a hybrid system with a lithium ion battery pack to the car, increasing overall efficiency. This system, similar to that applied to the ActiveHybrid 7, is a full hybrid system, able to drive the car under only electric power for short distances at low speed. It lets the car creep under electric power in stop-and-go traffic and turn off its engine at stoplights.

In BMW style, the ActiveHybrid 5 doesn't compete with the 50-mpg Toyota Prius. BMW didn't bother to downsize the gasoline engine in the 535i, instead adding the hybrid system. The extra 360 pounds from the hybrid system have an impact on performance, of course, but the net result is still a 40-horsepower increase and better fuel economy, by about 4 mpg, than the 535i.

BMW released specifications and photos of the ActiveHybrid 5, which should go into production next year. We will be looking for it at upcoming auto shows.