Page Overview: BMW Group - Electromobility - Technology
Schematics of e-drive


The BMW Group is convinced there will not just be one solution for all mobility needs worldwide in the coming years. Instead, there will be a mix of different drive technologies – because no single solution can meet all customers’ mobility needs around the world. However, with flexible production structures at its plants, the BMW Group is already ideally positioned to meet a wide variety of market demands.

[...] We believe in the power of choice: diverse drive trains, for diverse customers, all over the world.

Oliver Zipse

Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG


 Schematic representation of a PHEV drive system

Plug-in hybrid vehicle

A plug-in hybrid vehicle can be supplied with power through a charging cable plugged into any fused domestic power outlet, a wallbox or appropriate public charging post. The energy stored in its high-voltage battery enables pure electric, locally emission-free driving. Recuperation is also used to recover energy during driving as soon as the driver takes their foot off the accelerator or brakes.

Maximum variability.

A plug-in hybrid vehicle enables everyday pure electric driving – for instance, for commuters in the European Union who work less than 30 kilometres from home, combined with unlimited long-distance capabilities.

High cost savings.

Widespread use of electric driving in urban settings and commuter traffic reduces fuel consumption. Low CO2 emissions also means lower vehicle tax payments.  

Government support.

Plug-in hybrid models can also meet the requirements for designation as electric cars, just like pure electric vehicles. In addition to tax benefits, this also comes with special privileges on public roads and eligibility for government and manufacturer purchase incentives.

 Schematic representation of a BEV drive system

Pure electric vehicles

A pure electric or battery-electric vehicle (BEV) is powered by electricity alone, with no combustion engine driving the vehicle. This is why a BEV is said to be “locally” emission-free during actual driving.

Emission-free driving.

Pure battery-electric vehicles drive locally emission-free.

E-mobility without compromise.

Fifth-generation BMW eDrive technology gives pure battery-electric vehicles a range of up to 600 kilometres (in the WLTP test cycle) depending on the segment. 

Cost benefit.

In Germany, pure electric vehicles receive an Electro Bonus of up to 6,000 euros – the highest state-specific incentive category – and are exempt from vehicle tax for ten years.

 Schematic representation of a MHEV drive

Mild-hybrid vehicles

In a mild-hybrid vehicle (also referred to as a 48-volt hybrid or MHEV, for Mild-Hybrid Electric Vehicle), the electric drive unit is there to support the combustion engine. The electric motor switches on in driving situations where a lot of fuel is burned and, specifically, when starting the engine. The electric motor can also boost acceleration.

Exceptional fuel economy.

Electrification pays: Even 48-volt mild-hybrid technology reduces fuel consumption by about 0.3 litres per 100 kilometres, compared to conventional combustion engines. With a plug-in hybrid drive train, fuel consumption in the WLTP test cycle and, therefore, also emissions, are reduced by up to 70 percent – and since pure electric vehicles are powered solely by electricity, they also drive locally emission-free.

Electric boost.

Energy recovered from coasting overrun and braking mode can be used to supply electrically powered vehicle functions and generate additional drive power. The electric boost delivered by the 48-volt starter generator guarantees even more dynamic performance.

Efficient coasting function.

Mild-hybrid technology with a 48-volt starter generator is particularly efficient. At speeds of up to 160 km/h, the combustion engine no longer goes into neutral in coasting overrun mode, but is completely deactivated.


BMW i hydrogen next

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Fuel cell electric vehicles.

In a fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV), electricity is generated directly inside the vehicle. Within the cell, hydrogen supplied from a tank reacts with oxygen from the air. As in a BEV, the resulting current is used to drive the electric motor, with the by-products heat and water. The only ecological drawbacks are currently from the process of hydrogen production, which requires a lot of electricity. The hydrogen must then also be transported from where it is produced to the filling stations.

Hydrogen vehicles are an important alternative and could become an additional pillar in the BMW Group's drive train portfolio, alongside battery electric drive trains. The BMW Group is already developing a vehicle based on hydrogen fuel cell technology: the BMW i Hydrogen NEXT. Since the summer of 2015, BMW Group researchers have been testing a small fleet of BMW 5 Series GT hydrogen fuel cell prototypes in collaboration with Toyota, featuring a jointly-developed drive system with a Toyota fuel cell stack. However, the BMW Group will not be able to offer customers fuel cell vehicles until the second half of the 2020s, at the earliest, depending on how market requirements and conditions develop.

Future prospects for hydrogen fuel cell technology.

In Germany, the European Union and other major regions of the world, lawmakers have recognised the significance of green hydrogen for the energy system of the future. We greatly welcome these various initiatives! For use on roads, the most important aspect is to expand fueling station infrastructure early on in a way that meets the needs of both utility and passenger vehicles. Depending on how conditions develop, hydrogen fuel cell technology can become another pillar in the BMW Group's drivetrain portfolio. Since 2013 we have been cooperating successfully with Toyota in this field and will present the second generation of our hydrogen fuel cell drivetrain in a small series of the BMW i Hydrogen NEXT based on the BMW X5.

Oliver Zipse

Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG


While the BMW Group has no doubt about the long-term potential of fuel cell drive trains, it will not be offering its customers a production vehicle with hydrogen fuel cell technology any time soon – primarily because conditions are not suitable at the present time. Hydrogen fuel must first be produced in sufficient quantities, at competitive prices, using green power. Green hydrogen will then be used primarily in applications that cannot directly be electrified, such as for long-distance heavy goods traffic. The necessary infrastructure, such as a comprehensive European network of hydrogen filling stations, is not yet in place. However, the BMW Group is continuing its development efforts in the field of hydrogen fuel cell technology and using the time until the infrastructure and an adequate supply of sustainably produced hydrogen are available to significantly reduce the cost of producing the drive system. The BMW Group is currently releasing battery-electric vehicles with a sustainable energy supply onto the market and will have a wide range of electrified vehicles ready for customers by 2023. A total of 25 models are planned by then – at least twelve of them fully electric.

First technical details of BMW i Hydrogen NEXT drive train.

The fuel cell system in the drive train of the BMW i Hydrogen NEXT delivers up to 125 kW (170 hp) of electrical energy, obtained from the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen from the air.

Jürgen Guldner

Head of BMW Group Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology and Vehicle Projects

Close-up of an FCEV drive system
Close-up of an FCEV drive system

The vehicle emits only water vapour. The electric converter located below the fuel cell adjusts its voltage to that of the electric drive train and the performance buffer battery, which is supplied with brake energy, as well as energy from the fuel cell. The vehicle itself has two 700-bar tanks, which together hold six kilograms of hydrogen. Guldner: "This guarantees good range in all weather conditions. The filling process takes only three to four minutes.” The fifth-generation electric drive train, used for the first time in the BMW iX3, is also fully integrated into the BMW i Hydrogen NEXT. The performance buffer battery positioned above the e-drive can provide additional dynamics during overtaking or acceleration, for instance. The BMW Group will introduce a small series based on the current BMW X5 with this hydrogen fuel cell electric drive train in 2022. Depending on market requirements and conditions, the earliest the BMW Group could offer customers vehicles with hydrogen fuel cell technology would be in the second half of this decade.

Close-up of an FCEV drive system
Close-up of an FCEV drive system



BMW X5 xDrive 45e


The plug-in hybrid BMW X5 xDrive 45e opens up new perspectives for one of BMW’s most popular X models. The BMW X5 drives locally emission-free, thanks to the BMW plug-in hybrid concept with intelligent energy management coordinating all powertrain components. Navigation data can be used to determine the best sections of the route for electric power.

BMW i3/MINI Cooper SE (BEV)

BMW i3/MINI Cooper SE


The BMW i3 has been a master of pure electric emission-free mobility since 2013, while the MINI Cooper SE began delivering urban emission-free mobility in typical MINI style in 2019. The new MINI impresses with its powerful and immediately responsive electric motor, brand-typical front-wheel drive and unmistakable go-kart feeling.

BMW M340d xDrive (MHEV/48V)

BMW 340d xDrive


The BMW Group is introducing an athletic powerhouse to the world of electromobility with its BMW 340d xDrive. A 48-volt starter generator gives the mild-hybrid system additional power. The battery is recharged while driving and provides the vehicle with an additional drive option for lower emissions.

BMW i Hydrogen NEXT (FCV)

BMW i Hydrogen NEXT


The BMW i Hydrogen NEXT, an expansion of the latest BMX X5 with next-generation drive technology, will be launched in 2020 as a second-generation small series. The BMW Group will communicate this development in hydrogen fuel cell technology to customers over the coming decade, depending on how conditions and market requirements develop. FCEVs like this enable unrestricted emission-free mobility with the same user profile as conventional vehicles.

BMW Motorrad C Evolution (BEV)

BMW Motorrad C Evolution


BMW Motorrad's first electric maxi scooter combines sustainability, dynamic performance and agility. Its powerful fully-electric drive train delivers maximum driving performance, environmental sustainability and innovative technologies, plus four drive modes and intelligent energy recovery from braking and acceleration.

MINI Cooper S E Countryman All 4 (PHEV)

MINI Cooper SE Countryman ALL4


The MINI Cooper SE Countryman ALL4 is the first MINI model in which a plug-in hybrid drive train opens up the possibility of pure electric and locally emission-free mobility with an impressive blend of sporty agility and confident versatility. It combines the variable space of the biggest member of the new model generation with the sustainability of BMW Group eDrive technology and electrified all-wheel drive.