When the driver gets out of the car and shuts the door, the car shuts off. That’s right, completely off. The reason, says Tomas Greger, a member of the BMW X6 active hybrid team, is safety. People have gotten out of their hybrids without shutting them off. They do this because the hybrid electric motor is so quiet they forget. But when the battery runs down the combustion engine kicks on and your garage could fill up with carbon monoxide and kill you in your sleep.
It doesn't have to be that severe. I got out of an electric car once and, because it was so quiet, forgot to turn it off. I hit the remote key and thought I had locked it. I remember thinking there was no noise or clunk one usually hears when they lock a door remotely, but I kept going. A few minutes later I came out and the car was unlocked and it occured to me that the door hadn't locked because the engine was still on. Not only could someone have stolen everything out of the electric car I was driving, they could have stolen the car!
BMW has combined the 4.4-liter, twin-turbo V-8 engine that produces 400 horsepower with two electric motors and a cobasys nickel metal hydride battery. The result is a high performing 478 horsepower with 575 lb.-ft of torque.
So, you have better performance, but what about the fuel economy? The U.K. has already certified the fuel numbers for the gasoline version and the active hybrid. The U.S. has not, so we'll convert them for you.
The gasoline version of the BMW X6 gets 12.8 liters per 100 kilometers. In Imperial (as in "God save the Queen" U.K.) miles that would work out to 18.4 miles per gallon. In the United States that equals 15.3 miles per gallon.
The 2010 BMW X6 active hybrid gets 9.9 liters per 100 kilometers. In Imperial miles that would work out to 23.75 miles per gallon. In the United States that equals 19.7 miles per gallon, which is what we got driving around the slow-poke streets of Miami up highway to highway to Lighthouse Point, FL.
The fuel mileage is about twenty-two percent better than the gasoline version. The price is about twenty-four percent higher, with the gasoline version starting around $67,125 and the active hybrid starting at $89,725 (including shipping).
The hybrid system is the system that was co-op'd with General Motors, Daimler and BMW back in 2005, before the world fell apart and Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz divorced. The difference in the system is the drivability of the car itself, not the intellectual property.
In this case the drivability of the BMW hybrid is as seamless in enthusiasm and performance as the gasoline version. The steering, air conditioning and the brakes are electric. There are two electric motors. All of the systems that could change the performance of a BMW have not.
BMW's factory in Spartanburg, SC has produced 57,039 units of the X6, yet you rarely see one on the road. Americans have NOT taken to the X6, but they are being sold globally. The BMW X6 exports from the United States has helped BMW become the number one Non-NAFTA auto exporter, according to Thomas Salkowsky from BMW. I wonder if Chrysler is helping the United States trade deficit as much as BMW is?
Having said that, this is a hybrid, and an expensive hybrid. There is nowhere in the world that is selling hybrids, albeit in small numbers, like in the United States. So the question will be: for a country that has purchased less than 9,000 units of the 60,000 produced, will they buy a hybrid version of that car? Or, will other countries that are purchasing that car spend twenty-four percent more to buy a hybrid? BMW wouldn't discuss how many X6 hybrids they are producing, so we will have to wait and see.