BMW 3-Series, Monday newsbriefs

October 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

The new-generation BMW 3-Series saloon goes on sale in the UK in February; a month later, there’ll be eight versions on offer which emit less than 120g/km. All versions get stop-start, brake energy regeneration and lower rolling-resistance tyres, weight has been reduced by up to 50kg and aerodynamics have been enhanced; the optional eight-speed auto gearbox, available across the range, gives no fuel consumption penalty and in some models, is more economical than the standard six-speed manual. The new four-cylinder 2.0-litre petrol engine (turbocharged 245hp) in the 328i replaces the previous six-cylinder 3.0-litre – it’s quicker, yet it returns over 44mpg and emits less than 150g/km. The 3.0 continues in the 335 – and will also be used in the ActiveHybrid 3, which adds an electric motor giving up to 40kW, as in the Active Hybrid 5 recently launched. The 320d’s 184hp 2.0-litre is tweaked to give 68.9mpg and 109g/km. From March, the 316d and 318d join the range (116hp, 143hp) plus 320i; xDrive four-wheel drive models and the ActiveHybrid 3 come by the end of 2012.

  • Downsizing to four-cylinder engines is a growing trend, without power/performance penalties: some number-crunching at AutoObserver.
  • Road test of the Chevrolet Volt at Autocar: “if it does suit your lifestyle, then it’s a no-brainer. Ultimately, it makes the electric car viable for the masses.” (Though actually, the Volkswagen Up! may be a better choice for many)…
  • Detailed story on the Coda saloon at Autoblog Green, with a short road-test. It’s unlikely to come to Europe, I’d say, or at least, not to the UK (costs of right-hand drive, handicap of the saloon body-style).
  • Three British firms are teaming up to develop a lightweight, low-emissions range-extended electric delivery van in a project funded by the Technology Strategy Board. Axeon is to provide the 25kWh battery pack, which will give a 60-mile range before the range-extender engine kicks in; this will feature nickel cobalt manganese ‘pouch’ cells, said to give greater energy density than lithium-ion phosphate. The other partners in the project are Intelligent Energy and Revolve Technologies.
  • More corn was grown for ethanol and fuel than for food in the USA last year. Not good; Treehugger and the Guardian explain why. Spike in world food prices, anyone? Biofuel usage is not always the ethical solution.
  • The largest “car-to-X” communications trial will start in Germany next year. This will test out wireless transmission of data to improve traffic flow and safety, optimising efficiency and the use of local infrastructure. More from Michelin Challenge Bibendum.
  • Seven crazy green transport concepts outlined at Inhabitat. Love the pedal-powered submarine…
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