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Thriftier BMW X3 plug-in hybrid coming next spring

Known as the xDrive30e, it should provide around 20 miles of electric driving range.

BMW X3 xDrive30e plug-in hybrid
Sip thrifty, my friends.

Plug-in hybrids can provide drivers the best of both worlds when it comes to motivating a vehicle. For those not quite ready to dive straight into the electric-car lifestyle, BMW has a new option headed to dealerships next spring.

On Monday, the German luxury brand announced the BMW X3 xDrive30e plug-in hybrid, and it will sport around 20 miles of purely electric range. The 12 kWh battery stowed under the rear seat not only keeps cargo space largely intact, compared to the standard X3, but it will help the luxury SUV sip fuel in a more frugal fashion.

The electric powertrain works alongside a typical turbo-four engine for a combined output of 292 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. Said motivating forces flow to all four wheels via BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive system and the brand said it splits torque between the front and rear tires at all times, as needed. That's true even when the X3 plug-in operates only on electricity, too.

As is typical of plug-in hybrids, drivers will have a few different modes to choose from. Of course, they can opt to run the SUV purely on electricity until the the range counter dips to zero miles. In Auto eDrive, which is the standard setting, drivers will find silent motoring up until 68 mph. Only then will the turbo-four engine kick over and help power things. Otherwise, it'll also fire up if the driver requests more power than usual. The instant torque will, undoubtedly, make the X3 plug-in scoot around quite well.

When the electric range is gone, both systems work together to help keep trips as efficient as possible. And if there's a reason drivers want to save the electric range, they can do that as well, only to unleash the zero-emissions mileage at a later time during a trip.

BMW plans to start production of the new plug-in hybrid this December at its production facility in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Pricing will come closer to its launch date, currently planned for sometime in March.

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