The typical hybrid vehicle is a car that would have been considered an economy car even before the hybrid technology was added. The Toyota Prius is the best example of a hybrid vehicle available today.
Some drivers want a hybrid, but don’t want to own a small and not-so-luxurious car like the Prius. For this type of more affluent buyer, many luxury carmakers are starting to add hybrid vehicles to the fleet of available vehicles.
BMW recently announced the world debut of its Concept 7 Series ActiveHybrid to appease these buyers. BMW says that its hybrid system offers the first use of BMW ActiveHybrid technology in the luxury saloon segment. BMW promises that its hybrid system reduces fuel consumption and emissions by 15% when compared to the same car without the hybrid system.
The hybrid drive train uses a V8 gasoline engine with twin turbos and high precision injection. Maximum power from the engine is 407-horsepower with peak torque of 442 lb-ft. The hybrid system utilizes an electric motor housed in the transmission that produces 20-horsepower and has 155 lb-ft of torque. The electric motor boosts the gasoline motor during acceleration.
BMW's hybrid system also uses Brake Energy Regeneration. The battery used in the system is a high-performance lithium-ion unit that is integrated into the luggage compartment. Unlike the hybrid system Mercedes uses on its luxury car, the BMW system does allow the engine to be stopped automatically during idle mode.
The BMW and Mercedes hybrid systems sound similar on paper, both boost fuel economy by aiding in acceleration. The Mercedes system uses a small battery that stores under the hood, whereas the BMW system uses a trunk mounted battery. That fact could make the Mercedes hybrid more appealing to some users who place a premium on trunk space.