Tomorrow at the LA Auto Show we'll be seeing the product of BMW's continued work with GM and the two divorced sides of what was once the German-American hybrid, Daimler and Chrysler — the Hemi Hybrids from Chrysler and GM's full-size GMT-900 hybrid SUV's. BMW's full-size SUV powered by the joint research between all of them knights of Teuton and the 'merican revolution of GM will be coming soon, but not expected to be revealed here in LA. But notice how I used the word "continued" — because an assumption can be made — based upon this here camo-ed up BMW 7-Series entering GM's Milford Proving Grounds — that the Global Hybrid Cooperation (GHC) between these three automakers is still going strong and now it appears they're working on some sedan systems. Full spy report from the sneaky-sneaks at KGP below the jump.
This spy update is a little different than most. It's not so much about WHAT was photographed; it's more about WHERE it was photographed. While trolling the roads around General Motors' Milford (Michigan) Proving Grounds looking for GM prototypes, we were stunned to see a BMW 7-series prototype approaching us—about one mile from GM's track entrance. We pulled over just in time to snap a series of shots as the new 7-series rolled by, followed by a Mini Cooper apparently serving as a chase car. We had to wait about thirty seconds for traffic to clear enough to permit a U-turn to investigate further, and the delay cost another photo of the 7-series actually entering the GM's Proving Ground entrance. As we rolled up to the light outside the track entrance, the big Bimmer was just disappearing from view as it headed deep into GM territory.
It's a strange sight, indeed, to see another manufacturer's still-secret prototype entering another automaker's test facility. The incongruity can only be explained by one thing: the Global Hybrid Cooperation. The GHC is the Hybrid development program being conducted jointly by Mercedes, BMW and General Motors. This new two-mode Hybrid system was first unveiled on GM's GMT900 sport-utility vehicles, but will soon be adapted for use on the Saturn Vue, as well as for use on light-duty passenger cars—like this new 7-series, for example. BMW's development guru, Burkhard Goschel, explained the reason for the cooperative thusly: "The creation of a shared technology platform for hybrid drives will allow us to more quickly integrate the best technologies on the market." Industry sources suggest that the GHC is the most cost-effective, time-efficient method to play catch-up with the likes of Lexus, Toyota, and Honda, that have been focusing on Hybrids much longer.
DaimlerChrysler and BMW representatives were reportedly on hand for the late-April preview of the two-mode Hybrid system on the GMT900 SUVs, and fielded some questions on their participation in this joint Hybrid program. But when it came time to talk specifics about what BMW vehicles would get the two-mode Hybrid system, conversation ceased, and no details would be provided. This 7-series prototype's visit to the GM Proving Grounds appears to have answered that question without the need for any corporate disclosure. GM will be building the Hybrid transmissions systems for Mercedes and BMW at GM's Baltimore transmission plant, which may have necessitated this 7's visit onto GM Territory. Whether development of the 7-series Hybrid is far enough along to be offered at the launch of the rest of the new 7-series' lineup is not known, but it's development is now clearly under way.