Like many automakers today, BMW is also elbows deep into developing highly efficient vehicles with low or zero carbon-dioxide emissions. The Germans already have the i3 electric car and the i8 hybrid, as well as a series of mind Activehybrid models, but Munich has expressed its intentions to launch more efficient vehicles with a range of newly-developed technologies. There have been rumors about BMW signing a partnership for batteries and parts with Tesla Motors and even the possibility of a hydrogen-fueled i5, but what we do know for a fact is that the Germans are working on a very efficient hybrid drivetrain that goes by the name Power eDrive.

Following the success of the i3 and the i8, BMW has developed a brand-new drivetrain that combines its proven turbo-four gasoline engine with a couple of powerful electric motors. BMW isn’t gunning for efficiency alone, but it also wants to enable its future hybrid to deliver the performance customers are familiar with and more. Still in its prototype phase, the Power eDrive could be the most powerful BMW production powertrain ever at 680 horsepower and 750 pound-feet of torque. The combo is currently being showcased in the 5 Series Gran Turismo, but it could find its way into several BMW models, ranging from sedan to SUVs. The Germans might even be planning a supercar with this drivetrain, although the two electric motors and the battery packs are still far from being light enough for a vehicle above the i8.

It could take a few years to find out the company’s specific plans for the Power eDrive, but in the meantime let’s have a look at this brand-new drivetrain as showcased in the 5 Series GT prototype below.

Click past the jump to read more about the BMW 5 Series GT Power eDrive.

  • 2015 BMW 5 Series GT Power eDrive
  • Year:
    2015
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Transmission:
    eight‑speed automatic
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    680
  • Torque @ RPM:
    750
  • 0-60 time:
    4.5 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    155 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    75000 (Est.)
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • car fuel:
  • body style:

Exterior

2015 BMW 5 Series GT Power eDrive High Resolution Exterior
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2015 BMW 5 Series GT Power eDrive High Resolution Exterior
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2015 BMW 5 Series GT Power eDrive High Resolution Exterior
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The appearance of the 5 Series GT Power eDrive is that of a stock version with the M Sport package. Specifically, the hybrid is equipped with a sportier front bumper that includes larger air inlets, sharper side skirts and a modified rear apron. Larger 19-inch wheels are also present, but the design is different from the usual V-spoke or double-spoke layout that comes with the M Sport package.

Other than that and the "Power eDrive" decals on the doors, this hybrid prototype is identical to a conventional 5 Series GT. Exterior changes might occur when the vehicle goes into production — starting with a few badges — but BMW has yet to mention anything about its final design.

Interior

There are no photos of the interior as of December 2014, but we expect the cabin to remain unchanged as far as amenities go. Given the M Sport bits seen on the outside, I expect this hybrid to feature a sportier interior with bolstered seats wrapped in Dakota and Nappa leather, a multifunction steering wheel, and aluminum trim.

With 680 horsepower at its disposal, this Bimmer’s interior would be quite inappropriate without the sporty features of the M Sport package. Heck, it’s quicker than a full-fledged M version and some customers will put it through its paces on a race track at some point. To do that, they need proper seats, sports pedals, and everything that comes with a high-performance vehicles, hybrid or not.

Naturally, the Power eDrive features an updated infotainment system with display menus and setting typical to a hybrid car. Though BMW hasn’t released any details, drivers should be able to monitor vital info such as battery usage, range, EV mode data and so on.

Drivetrain

2015 BMW 5 Series GT Power eDrive High Resolution Exterior
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This is where the 5 Series GT stands out when compared to its conventional siblings. Motivating the sedan is the company’s familiar twin-turbo, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine — not available on the U.S.-spec 5 Series GT— and a pair of electric motors. While the gasoline unit pumps only 228 ponies, the electric motors crank out 201 and 268 ponies, respectively, taking the total output to a whopping 680 horses. The torque figure is equally impressive, with at least 750 pound-feet of twist spinning the wheels.

The combo enables the sedan to act like an all-wheel-drive vehicle. One 201-pony unit is mounted up front in the space usually occupied by the torque converter in the eight-speed automatic transmission, while the more powerful motor lies within the rear axle assembly. Both are powered by 20-kWh lithium-ion batteries installed longitudinally in the rear of the car’s center tunnel and horizontally underneath the rear seats. The battery can be charged via the sedan’s plug-in socket or on the run using the gasoline four-banger, which is now fueled by an eight-gallon tank instead of the standard 18-gallon.

When used in all-electric mode, the 5 Series GT Power eDrive is good for 62 miles. When this setting is activated, the 2.0-liter engine acts as a generator, but it can also boost performance by sending power to the front axle. When used as a classic hybrid, the sedan returns a range of more than 370 miles with a fully charged battery and a full gasoline tank.

As far as performance goes, BMW has yet to release any specs. However, the Germans did say the Power eDrive prototype is quicker than the 4.4-liter V-8-powered 550i GT, which needs 4.5 seconds to reach 60 mph from a standing start. That’s quite impressive for vehicle that weighs significantly more than the regular 5 Series GT, mostly due to the added electric motors, battery and electronic management systems.

Drivetrain Specifications

Type TwinPower Turbo internal combustion engine combined with Power eDrive electric drive system
Output 680 HP
Torque 750 LB-FT
Batteries Lithium-ion, up to 20 kilowatt hours
All-electric driving range 100 km (62 miles)
Overall range 595 km (370 miles)
Gearbox eight-speed automatic

Prices

2015 BMW 5 Series GT Power eDrive High Resolution Exterior
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With no actual launch date given, it’s way too early to talk about prices. However, I do expect the Power eDrive to become the most expensive 5 Series GT once it arrives in showrooms. The title is currently being held by the 550i xDrive, which retails from $71,400. The base, U.S.-spec 535i model starts from $60,700.

Competition

Tesla Model S P85D

2015 Tesla Model S P85D High Resolution Exterior
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I know the Tesla Model S has no gasoline engine, but the 5 Series GT Power eDrive is powerful enough to compete against America’s already iconic all-electric sedan, although the Bimmer is smaller than a regular full-size. The P85D is brand-new in the Tesla lineup and it’s the quickest and most powerful Model S ever created. Unlike the regular sedan, which comes in a rear-wheel-drive configuration, the P85D is motivated by two electric motors, which means power reaches all four corners.

The unit spinning the rear wheels generates 470 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque, while the power unit mated to the front wheels sends 221 ponies and 244 pound-feet of torque to the pavement. This means the P85D has no less than 691 horses and 687 pound-feet of twist at its disposal, figures that return astounding performance. Specifically, the sedan can now sprint from 0 to 60 mph in only 3.2 seconds, making it quicker than the BMW above and faster than any other production sedan and a host of sports cars. Top speed sits at 115 mph. The AWD system also adds an extra ten miles to the range, taking the total up to 275 miles on a single charge.

That’s nearly 100 miles less than what the 5 Series GT can return, but the Model S will run for 275 miles without a drop of gasoline, something the German sedan can’t do. Pricing for the Model S P85D starts from $120,170 before incentives. Definitely not cheap, but the Tesla delivers performance and mileage other electric or hybrid vehicles cannot.

Conclusion

2015 BMW 5 Series GT Power eDrive High Resolution Exterior
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I’ve never been a fan of the 5 Series Gran Turismo — a bloated 5 Series with a tailgate — and I’ve yet to understand its actual purpose in the segment expect for the fact that it offers a lot of extra legroom in the rear. However, the addition of a hybrid drivetrain changes things dramatically, especially with 680 horsepower and 750 pound-feet of torque on tap.

Sure, that doesn’t make it prettier on the outside, but we’re now looking at a roomy, five-door GT that sips a lot less fuel and offers an outstanding range. Of course, it’s still a prototype and it would be awfully expensive as a production car, but the 5 Series GT Power eDrive would give the Tesla Model S a run for its money. Not to mention that the Power eDrive technology will be offered in other BMW vehicles as well.

  • Leave it
    • Still a prototype
    • Likely very expensive
    • No production timetable
    • The 5 Series GT isn’t the best looking Bimmer

Press Release

The overall efficiency of a plug-in hybrid vehicle is closely related to its all-electric driving range. The ongoing development and refinement of hybrid drive systems under the Efficient Dynamics programme is geared in particular to maximising the amount of time the vehicle spends in electric mode. In order to ensure that this shift to increased electric operation goes hand in hand with typical BMW dynamic performance, unimpaired everyday practicality and maximum long-distance capability, the BMW Group is developing a new generation of “highly electrified” hybrid concept models.

2015 BMW 5 Series GT Power eDrive High Resolution Exterior
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Highlights of the future models’ Power eDrive technology will include significantly higher-powered electric motors and batteries with twice the capacity of present versions. With this technology, the BMW Group is embarking on the next stage in powertrain electrification. The development of high-performance Power eDrive electric drive technology is aimed at increasing both the overall efficiency and the dynamism of future hybrid vehicles. Increasing focus will be placed on all-electric operation – i.e. operation with zero tailpipe emissions. Power eDrive technology for plug-in hybrid application will be a natural choice for use in upmarket vehicle segments too, where it will offer unrestricted everyday practicality plus good long-distance capability.

In these plug-in hybrid vehicles of the future, the Power eDrive electric drive system will contribute approximately two thirds of the vehicle’s combined output, with the TwinPower Turbo internal combustion engine accounting for the remaining third. The drive components used in these future hybrid systems will offer combined outputs in excess of 500 kW, while the capacity of the lithium-ion batteries – up to 20 kilowatt hours – will likewise be greatly in excess of current hybrid systems.
Zero local emissions in everyday operation, instant accelerating power, superior long-distance comfort.

2015 BMW 5 Series GT Power eDrive High Resolution Exterior
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These advances, coupled with an increased all-electric driving range of up to 100 kilometres (62 miles), will make it possible to operate in locally emission-free all-electric mode on virtually all day-to-day trips. The role of the internal combustion engine within this concept will be a supporting one that takes various forms. For example the engine can provide a boost function when extra-dynamic acceleration is required, and it can also serve to increase the overall driving range to levels typical of a conventionally powered vehicle.

At the same time, the performance of these future hybrid models will be on a par with that of a conventionally powered sports car. To add to the excitement the new, higher-powered motors will offer a further increase in the low-end responsiveness that has always been the hallmark of electric drive.

Flexible concept for typical BMW driving pleasure.

2015 BMW 5 Series GT Power eDrive High Resolution Exterior
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On future plug-in hybrid concepts the electric motor, which will be the main source of power for everyday driving, will continue to drive the rear wheels, while the addition of a second electric motor driving the front wheels will create an all-electric road-coupled all-wheel-drive system. At the same time, an internal combustion engine will also supply power to the front axle.

With its development work in the field of eDrive technology, the BMW Group is positioning itself to field the broadest possible range of high-overall-efficiency vehicle concepts. While the BMW i3 is the ideal solution for urban and suburban mobility, future plug-in hybrid drive systems will allow fuel consumption and emissions to be steadily reduced in long-distance operation as well. In other words, it will be possible to deliver a typical BMW driving experience across a whole range of scenarios, including zero-local-emission everyday driving, long-distance trips and sporty, dynamic driving situations.

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