BMW and Brilliance 5-Series plug-in hybrid prototype

BMW and Brilliance 5-Series plug-in hybrid prototype

As we first reported several months ago, BMW and its Chinese partner Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd. has developed a new plug-in hybrid version of its 5-Series, revealed today ahead of its debut in just a few weeks at the 2011 Shanghai Auto Show.

The vehicle is classed as a prototype and is based on the long-wheelbase BMW 5-Series developed exclusively for the Chinese market. You may recall BMW and Brilliance are tied in a joint-venture that builds the 5-Series sedan and its long-wheelbase variant in China.

The new prototype features a parallel hybrid system that combines a ‘TwinPower Turbo’ gasoline engine with an electric motor. The included battery used to power the electric motor also features a plug-in system, allowing it to be up charged up by mains power.

When running purely on electric power, it is possible to travel emission-free for up to 64 miles at a constant speed of 37 mph (BMW claims this is a typical drive scenario in China). Use of the gasoline engine provides a minimum additional range of 250 miles.

The parallel hybrid set-up consists of a 250 horsepower gasoline engine and an electric motor with a maximum output of 70 kW (95 horsepower). The electric motor draws its energy from a high-voltage battery housed in the luggage compartment which as mentioned can be charged via the mains power supply.

The best part is that BMW has confirmed production of a plug-in hybrid 5-Series will commence in 2013, although the automaker has only mentioned the Chinese market for now. We don't expect this particular version to be sold in the U.S., but a variant of the technology might be. We've already spotted the ActiveHybrid 5 in testing, and BMW has plans for a hybrid 3-Series as well, so it's likely that all of these cars will be related in technology, if not in name.

The 2011 Shanghai Auto Show doesn’t kick off on until April 19 so stay tuned for an update.