Published September 14, 2012
By Philippe Crowe
With the new BMW Concept Active Tourer to be showcased at the Paris Motor Show, its maker wants to put forward a vehicle which it says is the first in the premium compact segment to combine comfort and space functionality with dynamic performance and style.
Annual growth rates of up to five percent are expected in the small car and compact segment of the premium class in the years to come. For this reason, the BMW Concept Active Tourer is a key component in the ongoing development of the BMW brand and its model portfolio.
As a plug-in hybrid, the BMW Concept Active Tourer also provides a glimpse ahead to future drive variants in automobiles of the compact class. The eDrive concept familiar from the BMW i8 is used here for the first time in a model of the core BMW brand. It covers all components of the electric drive, the electric motor developed by BMW, the lithium-ion battery and the intelligent engine control unit.
The BMW Concept Active Tourer has a 1.5-liter gas engine from the BMW Group Efficient Dynamics family of engines interacting with a synchronous electric motor.
The BMW Concept Active Tourer presents a drive concept which is new to the BMW brand. The 1.5-liter gas engine does not drive the rear wheels - as has been the case in BMW models to date - but the front wheels. The electric motor of the BMW Concept Active Tourer is designed as a fully-fledged power unit and acts on the rear axle, if necessary powering the car on its own.
According to BMW, with a system output of over 140 kilowatts (190 bhp), the combination of combustion engine and electric motor enables the BMW Concept Active Tourer to achieve highly sporty performance figures while maintaining extremely low fuel consumption and emission levels.
The BMW Concept Active Tourer accelerates in less than eight seconds from standing to 100 kph (62 mph), while the maximum speed achieved by the dynamic plug-in hybrid is around 200 kph (124 mph). In spite of these performance figures, BMW says the average fuel consumption is less than 2.5 liters per 100 kilometers (94 mpg), with a CO2 emissions level of less than 60 g/km.
The combustion engine of the new BMW Concept Active Tourer is a new 1.5-liter engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo Technology. Derived from the 6-cylinder engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo Technology, it combines the latest generation of High Precision Injection with the fully variable valve control system VALVETRONIC and ultra-modern turbocharging.
BMW TwinPower Turbo Technology will be used in all power units of the BMW Group's Efficient Dynamics engine family in the future - not least because it does not depend on total capacity or number of cylinders. The new 3-cylinder engine in the BMW Concept Active Tourer is one of the first representatives of this new generation of engines. The compact in-line engine constitutes an exemplary combination of dynamic performance and efficiency.
The synchronous electric motor in the BMW Concept Active Tourer was also developed by the BMW Group.
With a fully charged battery, the BMW Concept Active Tourer has a maximum range of over 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) when running on electric power alone. This means that the majority of day-to-day trips dispense with local emissions entirely. What is more, the boost function can be applied to use the power provided by the synchronous electric motor for such things as highly dynamic acceleration maneuvers.
In both cases the drive power is made available spontaneously and without delay. The maximum torque of 200 Newton meters is available from standing.
The lithium-ion battery of the BMW Concept Active Tourer can be charged at any 220 volt household power socket. Power can be drawn from both axes of the BMW Concept Active Tourer and fed into the lithium-ion battery so as to enhance the efficiency of the plug-in hybrid.
While the electric motor automatically recuperates maximum energy at the rear axle during deceleration, a high-volt generator connected to the combustion engine additionally charges the battery whenever needed.
The BMW Concept Active Tourer also features a measures package specially geared towards the plug-in hybrid to increase efficiency. For example, an anticipatory operating strategy optimizes the efficiency of the electric motor and the high-performance battery. The system draws on data provided by the navigation system, calculating in advance the most suitable sections of the route and driving situations in which to apply electric drive or charge the battery.
According to BMW, this optimized charging strategy saves up to ten per cent of energy so as to extend the amount of travel time during which the vehicle runs on electrical power alone.
The BMW Concept Active Tourer is also fitted with the ECO PRO mode which is already available in current BMW serial production models.
At the appropriate opportunities, ECO PRO mode reduces the power of the interior air conditioning and other electrically powered comfort functions, ensuring drive components operate on maximum efficiency according to the current situation on the road.
ECO PRO mode also provides the driver with valuable advice. To this end, this system is linked to the navigation system. Based on the calculated route data and the driver's individual style of driving, ECO PRO mode is able to indicate how to reach a given destination with the lowest level of fuel consumption, for example.
The preview assistant gives the driver tips such as "Remove foot from accelerator" if a tight bend or speed limit is approaching which the driver cannot even see yet. The preview assistant can take into account such features as bends, built-up areas, roundabouts, T junctions and motorway exits. At the same time, an anticipatory transmission assistant optimizes the electronic transmission control system for imminent situations.
ECO PRO mode can also activate the so-called coasting mode at two levels between 50 kph (31 mph) and 160 kph (99.5 mph). Here the system completely deactivates the combustion engine at speeds of up to 125 kph (77.67 mph). It also decouples the engine from the drivetrain up to a speed of 160 kph (99.5 mph), allowing comfortable driving while making full use of the kinetic energy already generated.