BMW Drops X3 PHEV, Adds Mild Hybrid

The 2022 BMW X3 xDrive30e plug-in hybrid will remain available in some parts of the world. In the U.S. market, the X3 PHEV is canceled. (BMW USA)

In the premium compact crossover category, the BMW X3 is a long-standing favorite. So when the German automaker introduced the X3’s plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) variant for the 2020 model year, it made a lot of sense, especially for buyers in the segment looking for fuel savings and a stepping stone to all-electric mobility.

However, BMW has decided to discontinue the X3 xDrive30e in the U.S. market after the 2021 model year, and without explanation.

Canceling the X3 xDrive30e from the U.S. model lineup leaves two potential scenarios to ponder. Either there may be a forthcoming upgrade to the model, or BMW is simply making room in its electrified portfolio for the all-electric iX3 crossover as part of the brand’s overall goal to offer 25 new electric and hybrid vehicles by 2023. But the iX3, on sale in other parts of the world, has not yet been officially announced for the U.S. market.

The X3 xDrive30e will remain available in BMW’s global markets. The vehicle is a good fit in regions where regulations such as Europe’s EV-only driving zones will make it attractive to drivers who need an electrified powertrain. The X3 xDrive30e uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine combined with an 80-kilowatt electric motor to produce 288 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. Energy storage comes from a 12 kWh battery pack located beneath the rear seat.

Nevertheless, BMW’s decision to drop the X3 xDrive30e for 2022 is curious as competing brands continue to add hybrids, PHEVs, and all-electric vehicles to their model lines. For example, Volvo recently reported that 20 percent of its current U.S. sales are from its electrified Recharge lineup of cars. The XC60 Recharge PHEV is a direct competitor to the now discontinued BMW X3 xDrive30e.

The Volvo XC60 Recharge is outfitted with a turbocharged and supercharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine and an 87-horsepower electric motor to deliver a combined 400 horsepower. Aside from offering significantly greater power and performance, the XC60 Recharge gives 19 miles of all-electric range over the X3 xDrive30e’s 17 miles of range.

Offsetting the elimination of the X3 PHEV, BMW’s high-performance X3 M40i returns for 2022 and now employs mild-hybrid powertrain technology. This system includes a 48-volt starter/generator and a 48-volt battery that recharges through regenerative braking and other energy recuperation methodologies. In addition, the technology improves fuel efficiency by allowing the engine to shut off more frequently when the X3 M40i is “gliding” or coasting to a stop. However, this system by no means qualifies as full hybrid technology such as that found in the X3 xDrive30e.

BMW will continue to build the X3 xDrive30e at its Spartanburg, South Carolina plant, but only for export to other markets.

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