BMW's Powerful Hybrid 5 Series Surfaces in Japan
HARTFORD, Conn., Dec. 6, 2011 - BMW has made a point to sacrifice nothing in power when developing its new hybrids, often actually boosting horsepower from their gas-only models. Based on the BMW 535i and recently unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show, the ActiveHybrid 5 will be no exception to this approach when it arrives at U.S. BMW dealerships this March.
The ActiveHybrid 5 will combine the award-winning 3.0-liter inline-six engine found in the 2012 BMW 535i with a 55-horsepower electric motor to achieve a 0 - 60 time of 5.7 seconds and deliver up to 335 combined horsepower. While that means an improvement of 35 horsepower compared to the 535i, the ActiveHybrid 5 is expected to have better fuel economy as well when EPA ratings are released. Owners will also have the benefit of cruising through town at up to 37 mph on electric power alone for short, emissions-free errands.
"The ActiveHybrid 5 doesn't equate to a sacrifice in performance like the more well-known hybrids on the market," said Tim Parker, general manager of Hartford, Connecticut BMW dealer New Country BMW. "BMW has found a way to improve both power and fuel efficiency, and that's the kind of innovation that you expect from a luxury automaker. This is only the beginning of BMW's exploration of sustainable performance though, as we saw with the BMW i concept cars that just debuted in Los Angeles."
Before offering the first in-person glance at the ActiveHybrid 5 in Tokyo, BMW held the North American debut of its two highly efficient concept vehicles, the all-electric i3 and the hybrid i8, last month at the LA Auto Show. Both vehicles have been built from the ground up with sustainable yet strong materials and the latest alternative drivetrain technology. BMW fans can expect to see them on the street after the i3 launches in 2013 and the i8 arrives a year later.
The electric BMW i3 is a concept designed with urban commuters in mind. Using BMW's eDrive technology, which combines an electric motor, a specially designed battery and an engine management system, the i3 is expected to deliver 170 horsepower and travel up to 100 miles on a single charge. The largely windowed vehicle has an interior manufactured from renewable raw materials, lowering the vehicle's overall carbon footprint even further.
Designed for longer trips outside the city, the hybrid BMW i8 concept is the luxury automaker's sportier sustainable option. Pairing a modified electric-drive system with a three-cylinder gas engine, the i8 delivers a combined 349 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque that allow it to accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in under five seconds. Drivers of the i8 will also be able to go up to 20 miles on electric power alone, while BMW is estimating eye-opening fuel economy of 78 mpg.
"The i8 will be one of the most practical sports cars out there; it's fuel efficient, it can fit four people and its range is uncompromised," added Parker. "On the other hand, the i3 will be perfect for city dwellers with a short daily commute, and I know many BMW fans that are looking for that kind of stylish functionality."
Eco-Friendly BMW X3 Assembly Line Gets Spotlight
'Ultimate Factories' Series Offers Inside Look at Innovative South Carolina Plant
HARTFORD, Conn., Nov. 7, 2011 - The National Geographic Channel recently gave driving enthusiasts an inside look at the production of a new 2012 BMW X3 crossover with its "Ultimate Factories" television series. The episode, which aired on November 1, was filmed in BMW's cutting-edge Spartanburg, South Carolina plant and follows the path X3 models take before they are delivered to BMW dealerships.
BMW's South Carolina plant produces all three of the automaker's crossover vehicles, including the X5, X6 and X3, which went into production in September 2010. The episode displayed the intricacies of the Bavarian automaker's assembly line, revealing the care and detail that goes into each vehicle. Known for its high-tech manufacturing technology, BMW now uses hydrogen fuel cells to power the material-handling vehicles that are involved in the production of the X3 at its Spartanburg factory.
"Just as BMW is often the first to come to market with new vehicle technology, they are equally as innovative in developing efficient and eco-friendly means of producing those vehicles," said Tim Parker, general manager of Hartford, Connecticut BMW dealer New Country BMW. "The use of hydrogen fuel cells in production of the BMW X3 is going to cut down on 1.8 million kilowatt hours per year in electricity consumption, while at the same time offering longer battery life than lead-acid batteries."
The fuel cells take hydrogen and convert it to electrical energy using only heat and water as byproducts, meaning that BMW's cell-powered forklifts, tuggers and stackers will have little environmental impact. As one of the largest hydrogen fuel cell fleets in the United States, the initiative supplements the automaker's creation of a landfill-gas-to-energy facility in 2003. That facility currently powers about 50 percent of the South Carolina assembly plant by capturing methane from a local landfill and converting it to renewable energy.
While BMW's South Carolina plant offers a unique glimpse at the company's future, some car buyers may be interested in experiencing BMW vehicles in the automaker's home country. For that, the luxury automaker offers its European Delivery Program, which allows American buyers to pick up their new BMW in Munich, Germany at a discounted price that helps cover costs of the trip. After a customer chooses from a wide range of vehicles and options at an authorized U.S. BMW dealership, they can pick up their new ride at the BMW Welt center in Munich, Germany, a futuristic facility featuring a factory and museum with historic BMW vehicles and displays.
After their visit to the BMW Welt, the car buyer can drive straight to a drop-off point and have the car shipped to America, or they can take the vehicle on a European vacation. BMW offers five Driving Adventures based on different lifestyles, ranging from "Lakeside Luxury" to "Castles and Mozart." Once the trip is over, customers drop off the car at one of 12 locations throughout Europe, where it will then be shipped to their U.S. BMW dealer of choice. There are drop-off locations in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland.
"Seeing the X3 factory on television is cool, but nothing can match touring BMW facilities first-hand in Germany," Parker noted. "BMW's European Delivery Program allows Connecticut BMW fans to order their vehicle here and pick it up in Munich, which means additional savings and a great chance to take a completely unique European vacation."
Can You Hear the BMW M5 Now?
Turbocharged V8 Gets Amplified for Aural Pleasure
HARTFORD, Conn., Oct. 5, 2011 - BMW has always tailored its M5 super sedan to customers looking for the ultimate driving thrills, whether it means more horsepower or improved handling. Now the automaker is boosting the BMW M5's natural sound through an innovative system that captures the purr of its engine and plays it in real time through the car's speakers. All that work ensures that the fifth-generation M5, due to reach BMW dealerships next spring, will be the most driver-centric version yet.
While some automakers have been keen to cover up the sounds their engines make, BMW has done just the opposite with what it calls Active Sound Design. This technology enhances the sounds under the hood so owners of the 2012 BMW M5 can get an earful of the most powerful engine currently featuring the M badge. Linked to the engine control unit, a recording of the V8 plays through the car's speakers, precisely matching the engine load and revs.
"Active Sound Design seems like a strange idea at first, but it's really well orchestrated," said Tim Parker, general manager of Hartford BMW dealer New Country BMW. "Car journalists frequently talk about a car's soundtrack, but in this case the M5 really has one, and a beautiful one at that."
The 2012 M5's new soundtrack comes courtesy of a new twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V8 that it will share with the BMW X5 M and X6 M performance SUVs. The next-generation M5 produces 560 horsepower and 502 pound-feet of torque, an increase of 60 horsepower and 122 pound-feet of torque when compared with the V10 engine of the previous-generation M5. While the V10 needed to rev to create power, the new V8 produces all of its torque at just 1,500 rpm, which means swift acceleration can be achieved with just a dip of the toe.
Adding to the 2012 BMW M5's increased performance is a new seven-speed, dual-clutch gearbox, which can quickly snap through gears with the push of one of the steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles. The super sedan will feature a new hydraulic steering rack, and BMW may also offer a package with carbon ceramic brakes, according to a report by Bimmerfile.com. The new stoppers would be produced by Brembo and SGL Carbon to provide the braking power needed for a vehicle as powerful as the M5. Carbon ceramic brakes are virtually fade-free, which makes them a popular option on cars made by Ferrari, Lamborghini and Porsche.
BMW's final touch for driving enthusiasts on the new M5 is its Active M differential, which gives drivers the ability to adjust the suspension settings, throttle response, steering sharpness and shifting speed at the push of a button.
"The BMW M5 is a legendary car, and they make it better with each generation," Parker noted. "BMW knows that M5 buyers are going to scrutinize every little sound, motion and sight, so they have developed an extensive list of technologies to improve the way everything in this super sedan feels."
BMW Developing an Ultimate Driving Machine That Actually Does the Driving
Self-Driving Cars, Steam-Powered Accessories Being Tested
HARTFORD, Conn., Sept. 7, 2011 - BMW is known for its Ultimate Driving Machine tag line, but the meaning of those words could eventually become a lot more literal. The automaker has set its sights on mastering self-driving cars, beginning with a prototype that has already logged around 3,000 miles with very little driver intervention. While the concept of an autonomous car evokes the future, the list of technologies potentially headed for BMW dealerships also pulls from the past, with the automaker's EfficientDynamics research team looking at the use of steampower in their drivetrains.
German engineers have packed a BMW 5 Series with the automaker's Highly Automated Driving technology, allowing the vehicle to pilot itself on highways, increasing and decreasing speed and even changing lanes without help from the driver. The technology uses a precise GPS system and a forward-looking camera integrated with the lane departure system and adaptive cruise control. BMW is quick to point out that the system only works on the highway and that drivers must remain attentive.
"Autonomous cars could one day be commonplace on Connecticut's highways," said Tim Parker, general manager of Hartford, Connecticut BMW dealer New Country BMW. "New technology like what BMW is developing will reduce accidents, increase fuel mileage and reduce congestion, three things that all drivers can agree need to be addressed."
Potentially marking a small resurgence of steam power in American traveling, BMW is developing a system called the Turbosteamer that captures the heat emanating from car exhausts to power a small steam turbine, which in turn runs an electric generator. Another system in the works is called the Thermoelectric Generator, which uses NASA technology to capture lost heat in the radiator and convert it directly into electricity. BMW has coupled both systems into a module that can power ancillary functions like air conditioning, music and lighting, and testing on four-cylinder engines has seen 10-percent fuel efficiency increases during long highway drives.
BMW has tested its new heat-capturing module in its 5-Series, but Connecticut BMW fans won't have to wait for the technology's implementation for more fuel-efficient models of the car. The 2012 BMW 528i set to debut this fall substitutes the 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder engine of the 2011 model with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. BMW says the new, smaller engine will be 15 percent more fuel efficient than the old six-cylinder plant while it provides brisk acceleration through an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Featuring direct-injection technology, the new four-cylinder engine in the BMW 528i matches the outgoing engine with 240 horsepower, but produces 260 pound-feet of torque, which are 30 more than the old unit. Another change headed for the 2012 BMW 528i is the availability of the xDrive all-wheel-drive system that improves grip in snow and other slippery driving conditions. Previously, the xDrive system was only available on the BMW 535i and 550i.
"What we're seeing now is BMW engineering at its best," Parker noted. "BMW's new engines are producing more power than ever while using less fuel, which means you can drive a sporty car without feeling a pinch at the pumps."
BMW 5 Series Leads Automaker Back to the Top of U.S. Luxury Sales
NADAguides August Car of the Month Helps BMW Surpass Lexus
HARTFORD, Conn., Aug. 8, 2011 - As one of the most enduring German luxury sedans, the BMW 5 Series has been polished for performance and comfort for nearly 40 years and six generations. That lengthy history has given BMW ample time to create a car in the 535i sedan that appeals to both consumers and critics. Adding to its long list of accolades, the 2011 BMW 535i has nabbed the NADAguides Car of the Month award for August and has helped give the automaker the lead in U.S. luxury vehicle sales in 2011.
NADAguides chooses its Car of the Month based on a number of criteria, including fuel efficiency, safety equipment, test drives and sales trends. When it debuted at BMW dealers in 2009 as a 2010 model, the latest generation of the BMW 5 Series brought with it a wave of innovative engineering, from drivetrain refinements to entertainment and navigation technology, that have bolstered BMW's rising sales numbers in the United States.
"The BMW 5 Series is the answer for professionals that need a luxury sedan that is as engaging to drive as it is to look at," said Tim Parker, general manager of Hartford, Connecticut BMW dealership New Country BMW. "No other automaker has the history or engineering expertise that gets BMW cars consistently recognized not only by consumers, but by the auto press as well."
U.S. sales of the BMW 5 Series are up 59.4 percent year-over-year through July, numbers that have helped make the automaker poised to beat Lexus in annual sales for the first time since 1997. The leader in U.S. luxury vehicle sales for the past 11 years, Lexus has sold 102,549 units through the first seven months of the year, while BMW has sold 135,114 vehicles. Credit for the sales success of the 5 Series can largely be given to BMW's engineers, who have spent significant time working on the drivetrain of the BMW 535i sedan to craft a vehicle that can be all things to all people: a sports car, highway cruiser or comfortable commuter.
Power has always been a dominant theme in BMW's history, and the 535i carries on that tradition with a 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder engine. BMW's TwinPower Turbo technology gives the luxury sedan 300 horsepower and an impressive 300 pound-feet of torque that is available anywhere from 1,200 to 5,000 rpm. Transmission choices consist of a six-speed manual gearbox or an eight-speed automatic. While standard models of the 535i send power to the rear wheels, BMW's xDrive intelligent all-wheel-drive system is also available and has proven a popular choice for those looking for grip in all conditions.
Drivers that eat up mile after mile of road will enjoy the technology BMW has stuffed into the 535i's interior with BMW iDrive. All comfort, entertainment and information features are controlled by the iDrive system, which features a 10.25-inch high-resolution display and simple-to-use controls that make accessing phone, radio, CD, and navigation features a cinch. The system also includes a 12-GB hard drive to import personal music from CDs, USB sticks and MP3 players.
"BMW's 5 Series is
the benchmark for all other luxury sedans for a reason," Parker noted. "It's
packed with innovative technology that makes life easier and has a refined
powertrain that is as efficient as it is powerful. The reason you see so many 5
Series models on Connecticut roads is that it has so many attractive features
that allow it to appeal to a wide variety of drivers."
New BMW M5 Loses Two Cylinders, Gains Two Turbos
German Automaker Redesigns Super Sedan for More Power, Greater Efficiency
HARTFORD, Conn., July 6, 2011 - The previous BMW M5, which ceased production in 2009 for the 2010 model year, was once described by "Top Gear" host Jeremy Clarkson as "motoring perfection," but the Munich-based automaker has turned up the wick on the 2012 BMW M5 coming to BMW dealers in the spring of 2012.
The 2010 BMW M5 was powered by a 5.0-liter 500-horsepower V10 engine, but the upcoming model drops two cylinders to reduce displacement to 4.4-liters and replaces them with two turbochargers. The end result is a V8 with higher performance at 560 horsepower. The 2012 BMW M5 will also be capable of 500 pound-feet of torque available at just 1,500 rpm, while the older model's V10 produced 383 pound-feet of torque at a dizzying 6,100 rpm.
"BMW's M5 sets the bar for all other sport sedans; it's the king of the hill," said Tim Parker, general manager of Hartford BMW dealer New Country BMW. "The 2012 BMW M5 is monumentally fast, and it is yet another testament to BMW's amazing engineers, who managed to reduce the amount of cylinders yet increase the vehicle's power through better efficiency."
Unofficially, the 2012 M5 is reported to have lapped Germany's famed Nurburgring road coarse in 7 minutes and 55 seconds, which, if confirmed, would be 18 seconds faster than the last M5 and faster than the best course times of the Porsche 911 Turbo and Ferrari California GT. The key to the 2012 BMW M5's pace is the pair of twin-scroll turbochargers that produce 21.8 psi of boost and provide torque nearly anywhere in the power band. Additionally, BMW engineers say fuel efficiency has increased a whopping 30 percent as well, so M5 drivers can have their cake and eat it too.
However, performance-loving drivers can appreciate BMW's turbocharging expertise even if the M5 is out of their price range. The 2011 BMW 335i sedan comes with a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine fitted with a single turbocharger to boost power levels up to 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque available from 1,400 to 5,000 rpm. That power means the 335i can scoot to 60 mph in just 5.4 seconds with the manual transmission, but the efficiency of the design allows the 335i with an automatic transmission to get 28 mpg on the highway. Drivers looking for greater capability on wintery roads can opt for the BMW 335i xDrive with all-wheel drive, which still gets 27 mpg on the highway when equipped with an automatic transmission.
BMW's turbocharging technology has also been applied to the automaker's diesel powerplant in the BMW 335d. The diesel sedan packs in 265 horsepower and an impressive 425 pound-feet of torque, all while achieving 36 mpg on the highway.
"BMW is dedicated
to providing greater fuel efficiency without sacrificing the engaging dynamics
of its vehicles," Parker noted. "Turbocharging technology allows BMW to
increase performance to unheard of levels, yet return better fuel mileage than
their naturally aspirated predecessors."