August 19, 2015
BMW’s hybrid electric vehicle sales were fairly robust last year, to the point that the company is currently looking for ways to double its EV sales in 2015. One simple way to increase hybrid sales is to produce more of them, which is what BMW seems to have in mind. According to several senior officials with the company, BMW plans on taking its popular M3 sedan and giving it the plug-in hybrid treatment. The Detroit Bureau quotes anonymous senior-level executives at BMW who say that the German automaker will soon offer a M3 with a plug-in hybrid powertrain. As one of the unnamed BMW execs put it, “[w]e have a lot to learn from BMW i,” in terms of delivering a high-performance plug-in hybrid that doesn’t skimp on performance. Indeed, BMW’s apparent goal is to create a “Goldilocks” model that has the power and performance of the BMW 3-Series, while at the same time meeting the strict environmental and fuel economy standards of its line of electric battery vehicles. Spies inside BMW say that the M3 plug-in hybrid will be able to utilize gasoline power when needed, but can also run capably on a full electrical charge for distances up to 20 miles. The vehicle will apparently get its oomph from one or two electric motors that would support M3’s current 3.0-liter inline-six engine. The up-front motors would direct electric power to the front wheels for added cornering stability, while the rear wheels would be driven by gasoline power (which is a standard feature for most BMW models). Reportedly the team responsible for the M3 plug-in hybrid will develop a powertrain that is lighter and smaller than the one currently offered by the high-performance luxury sedan. BMW sources claim that its engineers can not only make a lightweight, inexpensive powertrain for the plug-in hybrid, the plug-in hybrid M3 model will hit the same price and weight range target of the current M3 sedan. All of these plans are in the “no comment” stage at BMW, so the best information we can offer about the M3 plug-in hybrid is informed speculation. Production of the revamped M3 is expected to occur sometime between 2018 and 2020, although it’s far too early to tell when to expect BMW plug-in hybrid models to arrive in dealerships. Until then, there’s the photo gallery above to get your first glimpse of what the M3 concept will look like. As we’ve mentioned before in our ongoing Audi and Tesla coverage, the electric vehicle segment looks to be highly competitive in the coming years, and now you can add another high-profile contender to the mix in BMW. Either way, it promises to be an interesting few years for fans of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.