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Auto Show:  2011 Shanghai Auto Show

BMW 5-Series Plug-In Hybrid - Shanghai Auto Show

April 26, 2011

As one of the premier prestige brands in the Chinese marketplace, and having built cars there – in collaboration with joint venture partner Brilliance – since 2003, it comes as no surprise that the BMW Group made a concerted effort at Auto Shanghai. To that end, three announcements were made either at the show or immediately prior to the show. And with the cost of oil moving ever upward, the most relevant was BMW’s announcement of a new hybrid 5 Series.

With an assist – both verbally and visually – from Houston Rocket (and Chinese native) Yao Ming, the launch of the hybrid 5-Series follows last year’s announcement in Shanghai of a production long-wheelbase ‘5’, the 535 Li. With the strong prevalence of hired drivers for the higher classes, the ability to stretch in the backseat makes this Chinese BMW the ultimate lounging machine. The hybrid system is described as an advanced parallel system, mating an efficient gas powertrain with an electric motor. Reportedly, when fully charged the vehicle can travel approximately 100 kilometers – around 62 miles (at 37 miles per hour) on electric power alone.

The 5-Series hybrid is scheduled for formal launch in the Chinese market in the 2013 model year. And while it’s a consideration for the U.S., the two hybrid BMWs available stateside – the 750Li Active Hybrid and its X6-based variant – aren’t exactly flying off of U.S. showrooms. A better shot for the U.S. is BMW’s next M5, also making its debut in Shanghai.

Earlier in the week, and immediately prior to the auto show, BMW’s DesignworksUSA announced the opening of a new design studio in Shanghai. Scheduled to begin operations in the second half of 2011, the initiative is intended to strengthen the design studio’s contributions to BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce in Asia, while also broadening the studio’s reach to non-automotive clients throughout Asia. As BMW noted, with more than fifty percent of the world’s population in Asia, the growth in these markets will have a significant influence of global design. With its new Shanghai studio, BMW’s design efforts will be even more visible – even in the absence of Mr. Ming – going forward.

DAVID BOLDT began his automotive career in BMW and Saab showrooms in the 1980s, and he moved to automotive journalism in 1993. David has written for a variety of regional and national publications, and prior to joining AutoTrader, he managed media relations for a Japanese OEM.

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BMW 5-Series Plug-In Hybrid - Shanghai Auto Show - Autotrader