Prestige car maker BMW have once again achieved award-winning status with their evergreen 3 Series. Consumers voted it, we learn, 2020’s ‘most loved car’, but BMW are not a brand to rest on their laurels.
With the global car industry slowly and hesitantly starting to recover, or at least surmount some of the difficulties presented by Covid-19, new car launches are once again being presented as moribund car journalists awake from their slumbers and get out and about driving the latest offerings. With a consumer resistance still to fully-electric vehicles, hybrid technology is being strongly represented in the latest releases as more and more manufacturers get onboard: BMW included.
This part-electric, part internal combustion technology offers an increase in dynamic performance, a decrease in emissions and a reduction fuel consumption. BMW now offer 48-volt mild-hybrid technology in fifty-one models.
From this Summer onwards, mild-hybrid technology will be deployed across a range of additional BMW models to provide support for the combustion engine. A 48-volt starter generator allows energy recovery from intensive braking, as well as an additional battery to store this extra electricity.
The 48-volt battery not only supplies electric vehicle functions but also makes its energy available to generate additional drive power. For the technically minded, the current flows back to the starter generator, which now takes on the role of an electric drive. This reduces the load on the combustion engine, allowing it to run as often as possible in an efficiency-optimised load range. The generator also provides an electric boost during acceleration, instantly providing an additional output of 8 kW/11hp to support dynamic power delivery during acceleration.
Mild hybrid technology was first introduced in selected BMW 5 Series model variants in the Autumn 2019, closely followed by the BMW 3 Series model and several BMW X models. Starting from last month, it will be available as standard in 37 further model variants, including the 3, 5, and BMW 7 Series as well as the BMW X3, X4, X5, X6 and X7. That makes the total of fifty-one mild-hybrids from the German brand.
Connectivity is the buzz-word these days and in response BMW has extended the connectivity in its vehicles with the introduction of Android Auto. Again, as of this Summer, owners will be able to use the digital voice assistant Google Assistant, Google Maps, music streaming services such as Spotify and Amazon Music, and WhatsApp; all from within their BMW without interacting with their phone.
Drivers can view all the important information from compatible phone apps on the Control Display with navigation directions also shown in the instrument cluster and (optionally) a Head-Up Display.
There’s also a raft of new and improved features across a range of models. These include BMW Maps and BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant.
Connected Parking is also offered which supports the search for a parking space in two ways; firstly by showing the driver possible parking spaces taking into account the size of their car (somewhat crucial in these days of big cars and shrinking spaces), and secondly calculating the probability of a parking spaces based on available data.
Connected Charging for plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles has also been improved, allowing customers to define specific time windows that the car should be charged, saving customers with fluctuating home-tariff charges money on their home charging. Public charging services have also been enhanced, offering drivers detailed information on individual charging stations such as opening hours and providers.
Expect to see most if not all car makers embracing the hybrid revolution. Increasingly, the technology is filtering down into the mainstream. For now, hybrid seems to be the way forward.
By Geoff Maxted