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Spied: 2014 BMW X5, 5 Series Plug-In Hybrids

Plug-in hybrid X5, 5 Series.

BMW is working on two new plug-in hybrid models, and our spy shooter recently caught both examples testing on public roads. The BMW X5 SUV and the 5 Series sedan will soon spawn plug-in hybrid variants, which are seen here hiding their charging ports behind camouflage tape.

Although the BMW X5 already received a long list of upgrades for the 2014 model year, it’s clear another is in the works. The car spotted here sports a trapezoidal charging port opening on its driver’s-side front fender, and a tell-tale sticker on the driver’s door reveals this as a “Hybrid Test Vehicle.” This is the first time the BMW X5 has been fitted with a hybrid drivetrain, although BMW previously sold an unloved ActiveHybrid X6. We’re told the SUV will use a plug-in version of the powertrain in the ActiveHybrid 5 sedan — a 3.0-liter inline-six engine, a powerful electric motor/generator, and a large enough battery to permit at least a dozen miles of electric-only driving.

Our spy photographers also caught a BMW 5 Series sedan that appears to have a plug-in hybrid powertrain. Like the BMW X5, this 5 Series has a sticker revealing it as a “Hybrid Test Vehicle,” but its rectangular charging port opening is on the rear bumper, rather than the front fender. BMW already says a traditional hybrid version of the 5 Series, called the ActiveHybrid, but the plug-in will have a much larger battery so it can drive for moderate distances with the gasoline engine shut off.

Speaking of which, the test car’s exhaust tips hint that a new gasoline engine is underhood. The current ActiveHybrid 5 has a round exhaust opening on either side of its rear fascia, but this test car has a pair of smaller tips at the driver’s side of the car, just like on a BMW 528i. That suggests this plug-in hybrid version will drop its 3.0-liter inline-six engine in favor of the 528i’s 2.0-liter turbo-four gas engine, further helping save fuel.

It’s unclear when the BMW X5 and BMW 5 Series plug-in hybrid models will make an official debut, but we can probably expect them at a major auto show in 2014.

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