Munich takes a second stab at hybrid-electric tech with 2020 BMW 330e plug-in hybrid

Electrification is clearly a top priority for German carmaker BMW. The proof is in the pudding, and the 2020 BMW 330e is the first slice of the pie. The new 330e is not a full-electric vehicle, but it’s a second attempt in electrifying the brilliant 3-Series. This new plug-in hybrid is host to a bevy of new technology and proves that hybrids can be fun to drive, too.

The 2020 BMW 330e is NOT the first hybrid 3-Series

That claim goes to the 330e plug-in hybrid of 2017. The first-gen model wasn’t as boring to drive as the Toyota Prius, but all the added weight gave the car a heavier driving feel than a conventional 3-Series. The exorbitant base price didn’t help, either.

But the new BMW 330e is different. For starters, it has more power and achieves a longer all-electric range than the previous model. And while waiting for official US EPA figures, BMW claims the new 330e has 15-percent better fuel economy than its predecessor.

More Power and Torque

Here come the juicy bits. The 2020 BMW 330e is equipped with a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four petrol engine producing 184-horsepower. It also receives a single electric motor smacked between the gasoline engine and eight-speed automatic transmission. The electric motor alone produces 113-horsepower for a combined output of 252-horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque.

This enables the sedan to sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 5.9-seconds. Top speed is at 143 mph, which is not bad for a plug-in hybrid.

Electric-Hybrid Powertrain

The BMW 330e comes with a 12 kWh 354-volt lithium-ion battery pack shoehorned under the rear seats. Meanwhile, the smaller 40-liter fuel tank is relocated under the trunk, which reduces cargo room to 13.2 cubic-feet (from 13.8 cubic-feet in a conventional 3-Series).

Although the battery pack is not big enough to gain DC fast-charging capabilities, BMW claims the 12 kWh batteries are fully juiced up in under three hours using a 3.7 kW AC charger.

Unlike other hybrids, the BMW 330e can run solely on full electric power. And if it does, you can expect an average range of 30-miles and a top speed of 87 mph. The previous model 330e only achieves 14 miles of range at a lower top speed of 68 mph.

The range is certainly not impressive on paper. But when you think about it, if your daily commute is only around 30 miles, you can essentially use the 330e in all-electric mode for the entire week, all without utilizing a drop of gasoline.

It has XtraBoost mode

The 330e may be a plug-in hybrid, but BMW wants to make driving it more fun with XtraBoost. Once activated, XtraBoost urges the electric motor to spin faster and produce 40 more horsepower for up to 10 seconds at a time. You can access XtraBoost in two ways: selecting Sport in the Driving Experience Control switch, or by stomping your foot on the pedal.

New Age Technology

The 2020 BMW 330e utilizes GPS data to detect low-emissions zones. It automatically switches to all-electric power as it enters the clean zone. BMW claims this geofencing feature will become standard equipment on all BMW plug-in hybrids from 2020 onwards.

Another clever feature in the 330e is the pre-cool/pre-heat function. The system can automatically cool or heat the interior before entering the car. This feature utilizes the high-voltage battery pack to pre-condition interior temperatures even if the charge is low, and all without wasting a drop of precious dinosaur juice.

For people who aren’t ready to take the electric plunge, the 2020 BMW 330e is the next best thing. First deliveries are expected to begin later this year. BMW will announce pricing at a later date. But if the European version is any indication, the new 330e will cost around $2,000 more than a regular 330i.

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