[dropcap size=small]F[/dropcap]ortune, it is said, favours the bold and it seems no manufacturer is as bold as BMW when it comes to electrification.
Even before a charging infrastructure was in place, the German luxury manufacturer introduced its i3 electric car and i8 plug-in petrol-electric hybrid here in 2014.
Now, it has unveiled six more plug-in models, including an upgraded i3 with a new battery pack.
Called the i3 94Ah, this revolutionary aluminium-and-carbon-fibre pure electric car has 50 per cent improved range to 300 km, although real-world conditions with air-con use are likely to drag it down to 200 km.
Fitted with an optional range extender – a small petrol engine for generating only electricity – this goes up to 330 km.
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POWER 184 hp @ 5,000-6,500 rpm
TORQUE 290 Nm @ 1,350-4,250 rpm
0-100 KMH 6.2 secs
TOP SPEED 235 kmh
Complementing the i3 is BMW’s iPerformance lineup. These PHEV or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle models look just like a conventional BMW with a petrol engine but with the extra oomph from electric power.
The five new iPerformance models are the 225xe Active Tourer minivan, the 330e compact sedan, 530e business sedan, 740Le xDrive flagship limousine and X5 xDrive40e sport activity vehicle.
The 530e iPerformance, for example, has a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine – just like the one in the 520i with identical output. But combine an electric motor and the 530e is propelled into another realm. The hybrid powertrain drives the rear wheels, with electric power providing back-thumping assistance.
Total system torque is a massive 420 Newton-metres and boosts the big, 1,770 kg sedan from zero to 100 kmh in 6.2 seconds (compared with 7.8 for the 520i).
Yet BMW claims fuel consumption for this handsome saloon is just 2.1 km per 100 km under the combined cycle, or an eye-popping 47.6 km per litre.
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The 530e can also be driven in eDrive or pure electric drive mode. The maximum electric range is 50 km but everyday use is likely to be about 25 per cent lower.
Using the 10.25-inch iDrive touchscreen, there are three eDrive settings to choose from – Auto eDrive (system-controlled electrical driving), Max eDrive (maximum use of electric drive), or Battery Control, where the battery charge is maintained at a set target value.
Alternatively, because it is a PHEV, simply plug in the 530e overnight for a full charge. This can also be done at 60 public chargers in 30 locations around Singapore, plus at least 25 condominiums.
But whether in normal hybrid or pure electric mode, the most impressive aspect of the 530e iPerformance is its refinement. The BMW is smooth and silent, switching seamlessly from combustion engine to motor and back again. Linked to the eight-speed automatic transmission, its operation is nothing short of silkenly accomplished. This hybrid is both bold and beautiful.
Story first appeared on The Business Times.