- the bmw 5-series power bev is a fully electric development exercise that explores what is technically feasible.
- while not meant for production, the power bev's engineering offers a glimpse of the technology that will go into future high-performance bmw electric vehicles.
- bmw has announced that it will now have 25 electrified models on sale by 2023, two years earlier than it previously stated.
as a development exercise meant to explore what it is technically capable of, bmw has modified a current 5-series sedan into a fully electric vehicle capable of scorching from zero to 62 mph in "comfortably under three seconds." a similar statement can be made for the gasoline-fueled production 2019 bmw m5 sports sedan. yet the prototype 5-series power bev (battery electric vehicle), which bmw unveiled at its nextgen 2019 symposium in munich, germany, is more than just an engineering sideshow. it's a look into the brand's vision for the future.
in place of the workaday 5-series' internal-combustion powertrain and drivetrain are a trio of electric motors—two that power the rear axle and one at the front—that produce a combined output in excess of 711 horsepower. bmw claims that the development car's packaging does not compromise the regular 5-series' passenger space, and that, along with all-wheel drive, the setup allows for torque vectoring across the rear axle to sharpen the car's handling responses.
of note, all three of the electric motors are of bmw's latest, fifth-generation design that include none of the rare-earth minerals commonly used in most electric motors; the new motor design will make its production debut in the upcoming not-for-the-united-states bmw ix3 electric suv in europe.
looking forward, the power bev's significance stems from its glimpse that it offers of some of the propulsion engineering that went into bmw's all-wheel-drive, 591-hp m inext hybrid supercar concept that also debuted at nextgen 2019, and which bmw executives have eluded to having a pretty good chance of going into production in a relatively similar form. while the m inext also features an internal-combustion engine, it sports a similar electrified front axle as the power bev and is good for a zero-to-60-mph run in three seconds and a top speed of 186 mph, per bmw. a production m inext model would most likely keep the hybrid powertrain according to klaus fröhlich, bmw's management board member in charge of development and engineering, as this arrangement still offers significant weight advantages over a fully electric setup, thus making it better suited to a performance vehicle that prioritizes stopping and turning in addition to straight-line speed.
adding credence to the power bev's engineering potential is bmw's announcement that it is ramping up its timeline for introducing additional electrified production vehicles by two years, claiming that it will now have 25 such models available in 2023—more than half of which will be fully electric—up from the previous date of 2025. all told, the company expects a 30-percent increase in sales of its hybrid and electric vehicles between 2019 and 2025. while the 5-series power bev may just be a development mule, albeit a wildly quick one, the fact that its guts are certainly more than vaporware makes it every bit as interesting as bmw's sexy supercar concept.