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BMW Has A Hybrid

By Bill Nye | Published: May 3, 2010 – 8:45 am

I got to test drive the new BMW 7 series Hybrid car. That’s right; Bavarian Motor Works has gotten into hybrid business, at last. To my thinking, it’s still late 20th Century technology. But, it is a luxurious car. It has a luxurious ride. If this part of the BMW Company gets excited and more importantly, gets its customers excited, about hybrid cars, maybe everyone will come around to the idea.

Here’s the idea: The big losses, the big wastes of energy in traditional automobiles, cars & trucks, is when they’re sitting at a stop sign or stop light. The engine is just whirring away, and the vehicle is not going anywhere. The other big waste is when a vehicle merges onto the freeway. To do that, it needs a big engine, with a big cooling system and a big fuel pump, and so on. Along with that is the roller-coaster style of lost energy. Combustion cars spend all this fuel to get the tops of hills, but once up there, all they can do is drag their way down. The energy of getting up hill is lost to heat– friction in the brakes and tires, and the very small drag force of the air going by. Hybrid cars store energy in batteries and they can get that energy back by running an electric motor.

Many of us don’t realize that an electric motor being driven backwards becomes a generator. An electric generator run backwards is an electric motor. Without too much trouble, engineers and craftsmen can make a motor-generator that works pretty well in both directions. This new BMW has its electric motor built into the drive shaft of the main transmission, or so the representatives told me.

It’s good to see BMW going down this road, pun intended. I am already a bit of a fan of their engineering. Even though I’ve never owned a BMW, I’ve leased and driven the all- electric, no-gas-nowhere-no-how MINI E Mini-Cooper for eight months now. It is fantastic. It’s an advanced electric vehicle– not a hybrid. I enjoyed my ride today, but compared with other hybrid cars, they haven’t gone very far. It does not store enough electric energy to run on its electric motor alone, even for a short distance. It has a feature to help the anxious driver not lose a moment as he or she pulls away from a stop, and this feature will lock in the gas motor and not allow the car to rest. But, the longest journey begins with a single wheel revolution… or something. If this gets luxury people on board, it’s great. So, thank you very much BMW. Let’s change the world.

Hybrid BMW 7

BMW V8 hybrid engine

14 Responses to “BMW Has A Hybrid”

  1. But really how often do you need to carry a Nye in your trunk?

  2. lyaba says:

    I love your awsome car and plus i am a hugr huge fan of yours i even am a fan on facebook!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Andrew S says:

    Awesome review Bill, Its always good to here automakers bringing out hybrid cars. Hopefully one day most of the cars out on the road are Hybrids or better yet full blown electric. I am a big fan of your work and what you do. Loved your Science Guy series and your appearances on Living With Ed. And I love the facts in the top right corner on your website.
    Good job Bill.

  4. Joseph K. says:

    This is really great! I’m glad BMW has finally decided to go green. I myself am a science educator for a childrens museum in North Carolina. I am always teaching my students the many benefits of going green. You do great work Dr. Nye, I always refer to your ideologies when I teach science!

  5. Shaunna says:

    I am a huge fan of BMW and currently own two. I was extremely happy when I heard the first announcement of their hybrid cars. I definitely thought they would not be comparable to the hybrids currently out in the market, but at least this is a step in the right direction.
    BMW has a couple of concept cars that I am interested in, one of which is an all-electric vehicle. Although only a concept, I hope that is soon becomes reality. I can’t wait to see what BMW comes up with next!

  6. Karen J says:

    I really appreciate the informative information I find on your website. This piece on the BMW hybrid was no exception. Keep up the good work.

  7. Joe says:

    Give me a 1965 Pontiac GTO with a “3 dues and a 4 speed and a 389″ any day. Or a Ford Fusion, if you want to go green.

  8. These kinds of posts are always inspiring, I like to read good content so I pleased to find many good point here in the post, writing is really great, thank you for the post.

  9. Thanks Bill for your lead and inspiration. Here in Ft. Pierce Florida my home is green including a 4500 watt solar pv system – the only residential solar electric in our city. We need help here in the Sunshine State to break out of primative thinking – our Utility refuses to offer net metering. I attend meetings and they will not even talk about it saying everyones rates will go up if they offer net metering to those with solar. We need to wake up our communities to the beautiful world of renewable energy before it’s to late.

  10. Feronica says:

    cannot believe how cool a hybrid car is!!!!!

  11. Gila says:

    So the brakes store the energy that regular brakes would lose to friction? It’s a good idea, but I hope there’s a conventional brake there for emergencies.

  12. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with some pics to drive the message home a bit, but other than that, this is fantastic blog. A fantastic read. I will definitely be back.

  13. Joan Marullo says:

    Plugs,wires,air filter,fuel filter,and pcv valve.Unless you’re having issues with anything,this should do it.

  14. John Tuning says:

    Hey Bill, thanks for this. I agree, I’m very pleased to see BMW on this path. Now luxury car owner can be more eco driven without sacrificing comfort. I am curious though, did you notice any lack of power when driving it?

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