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2010 BMW ActiveHybrid X6 Preview

2010 BMW ActiveHybrid X6 Preview

By Jeff Youngs, December 31, 2009
2010 BMW ActiveHybrid X6Critical Knowledge:
  • All-new fourth model in the X6 lineup
  • The most powerful hybrid in the world, according to BMW
  • 20-percent improvement in fuel economy over gasoline equivalent
  • Three individual power units for a combined 480 horsepower
  • Nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery pack
  • Unique 2-mode transmission controls the electric motors
  • 7-speed automatic transmission
  • Standard xDrive all-wheel-drive system
  • Standard 20-inch aluminum wheels
Introduction
The BMW X6 "Sports Activity Coupe" debuted for the first time in the 2008 model year. In contrast to the BMW X3 and BMW X5, the automaker's other traditionally-styled SUV models, the X6 featured a sharply raked roof more reminiscent of BMW's coupe lineup-the automaker's exact intentions. With a cabin designed to transport four with the highest level of on-road sport, luxury and elegance, the X6 was initially offered in two trim levels with a choice between a twin-turbo 6-cylinder engine and a twin-turbo V-8 powerplant. BMW has added a high-performance X6 M model, and an efficient ActiveHybrid X6 model, for the 2010 model year.

The all-new ActiveHybrid X6 is fitted with a hybrid gasoline/electric powertrain. According to BMW, the ActiveHybrid X6 is 20 percent more fuel-efficient than a vehicle powered by a comparable combustion engine. Promoted as the world's first SAV with full hybrid drive technology, the ActiveHybrid X6 technology provides a glimpse into the future, achieving outstanding driving dynamics with equally impressive efficiency, adds the automaker.

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2010 BMW ActiveHybrid X6Model Lineup
BMW sells the X6 in four configurations: X6 xDrive35i, X6 xDrive50i, ActiveHybrid X6, and X6 M. The all-new ActiveHybrid X6 is fitted with a very unconventional powertrain, but it shares the same platform, cabin appointments, and exterior sheetmetal as the other models. If you overlook the special badges and unique hood bulge, it would be nearly indistinguishable from its traditional gasoline siblings.

Coupe-like in design, the ActiveHybrid X6 is a 4-passenger vehicle with individual rear seats separated by a center console. Passengers and the luggage compartment (large enough for four golf bags) are distinctly separated from one another-again in coupe-like fashion. To increase transport capacity, the rear-seat backrests may be folded in an asymmetric split, substantially expanding capacity. A standard power-operated tailgate with automatic opening and closing adds convenience.

In standard trim, the ActiveHybrid X6 is very well equipped. Nappa leather covers the seats, dashboard and center console. A rear-view camera, head-up display, premium sound system, 4-zone climate control and privacy glass are all standard. Optional equipment includes active ventilated seating, rear side-window shades, satellite radio, and enhanced premium sound. While 20-inch alloy wheels are standard, BMW offers 19-inch wheels with all-season tires as a no-cost option (smaller wheels are less susceptible to winter or off-road damage, BMW says).

2010 BMW ActiveHybrid X6Hardware
The BMW ActiveHybrid X6 features three power units. The first is a single 400-hp, twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter V-8 gasoline engine. Heavily modified for use in the ActiveHybrid X6, the engine does not have a starter, alternator or belt drive for the air conditioning. Even the engine's cooling system has been modified for all-electric operation. Completing the hybrid powerplant are two electric motors, 91-hp and 86-hp respectively, powered by a liquid-cooled 2.4 kWh nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery pack. The combined system output is 480 horsepower and 575 lb.-ft. of peak torque-making the ActiveHybrid X6 the most powerful hybrid vehicle in the world, according to BMW. A sophisticated hybrid drive system, including three planetary gearsets and four multi-plate clutches, sends power through a 7-speed automatic transmission.

The ActiveHybrid X6 is able to drive on electric power exclusively-completely emission free-up to a speed of 37 mph, according to BMW. The X6 ActiveHybrid can operate on electric power only, on the combustion engine only, or a combination of both powerplants. The dual electric motors may be used for acceleration or for regenerative application of the brakes during deceleration, sending electric power back to the high-voltage energy storage unit for additional electric power. Carefully managing the various power usages and maintaining the battery at a high charge level lets BMW use the electric motors "to first, give the car incomparable spontaneity and a direct response and, second, to significantly reduce fuel consumption," says BMW. The manufacturer says the ActiveHybrid X6 will accelerate to 60 mph in just 5.4 seconds, and its top speed is electronically limited to 130 mph. The EPA rates the 5,688-pound 2010 ActiveHybrid X6 at 17 mpg city and 19 mpg highway (the non-hybrid X6 xDrive50i is rated at 13 mpg city and 18 mpg highway).

All ActiveHybrid X6 models are equipped with xDrive, BMW's full-time AWD system that electronically varies front/rear torque split and traction control to offer optimal traction and control under varied road conditions, according to BMW. The suspension on the ActiveHybrid X6 is fully independent, with 4-wheel disc brakes inside standard 20-inch light alloy wheels. If the driver is alerted to an anomaly by the standard tire-pressure-monitoring system, run-flat safety tires enable continued driving even after a complete loss in tire pressure.

2010 BMW ActiveHybrid X6Safety
All models of the ActiveHybrid X6 offer driver and passenger front and side air bags with BMW's Head Protection System curtain-type air bags extending down the sides of the passenger compartment. All seats feature 3-point inertia-reel belts with belt tensioners and belt-force limiters. Crash-activated headrests are designed to prevent cervical spine injury in the event of a collision from behind. All restraint systems are monitored by a center electronic safety "brain" evaluating the type and severity of the collision. The electronics control the deployment rate of the two-stage frontal air bags, and are engineered to activate the curtain air bags and belt tensioners if a rollover is imminent. The long list of standard active safety features includes anti-lock brakes, stability control, traction control, trailer stability control, hill-descent control, Cornering Brake Control, and Fading Compensation.

Technology
The BMW ActiveHybrid X6 features an innovative two-mode active transmission that is based on an electrical continuously variable transmission (ECVT). This design allows the innovative gearbox to run at continuously variable speeds while ensuring efficiency throughout the complete operating range of the vehicle. Utilizing electronics, the transmission operates in two different settings to deliver power only when needed. When starting from a standstill and driving at low speeds, only one of the vehicle's two electric motors is used. As soon as the driver calls for more power, or increased speed, the second motor is initialized. Unlike conventional hybrid transmissions, the two-mode transmission is more compact and lightweight-increasing efficiency while improving the X6's driving and handling dynamics, BMW says.

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