BMW Australia will launch its new generation of 'eDrive' plug-in hybrid models with a price premium that will put them on par with similarly-specced diesels. The incoming BMW X5 xDrive40e is expected to be priced and specced similarly to the $118,900 X5 xDrive40d.
That will give BMW a significant price advantage over the only other plug-in hybrid luxury SUV in the X5's size category, with the Porsche Cayenne S e-Hybrid retailing for $140,800.
For the BMW 330e (below), the price ballpark is somewhere between the high-$60k and mid-$70k region.
The X5 xDrive40e and the 330e are set to become the third and fourth BMW plug-in models in Australia when they arrive in April this year, and will provide a more mainstream alternative to the existing BMW i3 and i8 plug-ins.
But unlike BMW Australia's previous attempts at hybrid versions of its volume-selling models - the company briefly offered the ActiveHybrid 3 and ActiveHybrid 5 but only achieved limited sales - the company has higher hopes for its duo of new plug-ins.
Though BMW won't put any official numbers out on how many it expects to move, BMW Australia product manager Brendan Michel told TMR it's hoped the X5 xDrive40e will sell in similar numbers to the existing diesel-engined X5 xDrive40d - a car which sold around 300-400 units last year.
For reference, just 150 BMW i3s in both pure-electric and range-extended PHEV guise were sold in 2015.
The X5 xDrive40e is powered by a 180kW/350Nm turbocharged petrol 2.0 litre engine, mated to an 83kW/250Nm electric motor. Total system output measures 230kW and 450Nm when both combustion engine and electric motor are working together.
But press the 'eDrive' button on the centre console (or use light throttle at speeds up to 70km/h), and only the electric motor propels the car. Drive sensibly, and it'll do so for a maximum electric-only range of 31km.
The combined fuel consumption figure is a claimed 3.1 l/100km, but make more use of the eDrive function and that number can be reduced even further. Even if you don't, the X5 40e's average fuel consumption is still better than the Cayenne S e-Hybrid's 3.4 l/100km claim.
But it comes at a slight cost. With the 9kWh lithium-ion battery pack stored between the rear axle and the floor, the boot floor is raised by 40mm and there's no room for a third row of seats. With around 30 percent of X5 buyers opting for the seven-seat configuration, that may cost the X5 40e a few sales.
But at least it makes up for that with a relatively short 4-hour charge time on a regular 10-amp power outlet.
For many commuters, a quick charge at their workplace should see them able to do an entire day's commuting (and then some) without lighting up the combustion engine.
The 330e gets a less powerful engine/motor combo than the X5 with a total output of 185kW and 420Nm from its 2.0 litre turbo four and electric motor, but can travel slightly further with an electric-only range of 37km.
Like its X5 cousin the 330e's boot space is compromised slightly by the lithium-ion battery pack, which sees luggage capacity shrink to a hatchback-like 370 litres.
Meanwhile, expect the 330e's specification list to be similar to that of the petrol-engined 330i.
More information - as well as precise pricing - will be revealed closer to the launch of both the 330e and X5 xDrive40e in April.
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