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BMW's  Concept Active Tourer, a through-the-road plug-in hybrid, uses a front-mounted engine to drive the front wheels and an electric motor to drive the rear, with no mechanical connection between the two. In most hybrids the output of the engine and motor are combined. The Concept Active Tourer is the first additional application of the eDrive sys­tem used in the i8, which incorporates an electric motor, lithium-ion battery, and intelligent engine control. BMW will use the eDrive designation for all its electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Like BMW’s latest four- and six-cyl­inder engines, the BMW Concept Active Tourer’s 1.5-liter three-cylinder gasoline engine uses BMW TwinPower turbo tech­nology. Even though it has only three-cylinders, BMW claims it is very smooth running even at low speeds and emits the sporty sound expected of a BMW.

The synchronous electric motor can power the car for up to 18 miles exclu­sively on a fully charged battery. It also augments the gasoline engine to provide over 190 horsepower when maximum power is required. BMW expects it will get an impressive 94 mpg, achieved partly through automatic engine start/stop and regenerative braking energy supplied the rear axle during deceleration. A high-volt­age generator connected to the 1.5-engine also charges the battery while driving.

BMW’s Concept Active Tourer has an ECO PRO mode to help reduce fuel con­sumption. When appropriate, it reduces air conditioning and other electrically powered creature comforts to increase fuel efficiency. Linked to the navigation system, ECO PRO mode gives drivers advice on how to reach a destination using minimum fuel. ECO PRO mode also completely shuts off the engine at speeds up to nearly 80 mph, and then decouples the engine from the drivetrain up to 100 mph to make full use of the kinetic energy already generated.

The Efficient Dynamics strategy uses information from the navigation system to optimize electric motor and battery ef­ficiency. For example, it calculates in ad­vance the most suitable driving situations and sections of a route for electric-only operation or to charge the battery. This optimized charging strategy can achieve an energy savings up to 10 percent and thus increase electric range.

While small on the outside, the Tourer is very roomy on the inside. It rides on a long 105 inch wheelbase and has an over­all length of 171 inches. A tall roof allows a raised seating position for an excellent all-around view. Batteries are located entirely beneath the floor so there’s no intrusion into passenger or cargo space.

Will the BMW Concept Active Tourer appear in dealer showrooms? BMW has a good track record for putting concept vehicles into production, so here’s hop­ing.