BMW unveils high-performance XM hybrid electric concept vehicle ahead of U.S. production

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BMW Concept XMBMW

BMW on Monday evening unveiled a new high-performance concept vehicle that previews an electrified crossover expected to begin production late next year in South Carolina.

The new production car, called the BMW XM, will be available exclusively as a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle under the company's “M” performance division, the automaker said. The concept car unveiled Monday includes a V-8 engine combined with electric motors to offer 750 horsepower and 737 foot-pounds of torque.

A BMW spokesman declined to confirm whether the production vehicle will match those performance metrics, but a release called the forthcoming vehicle the “most powerful BMW M car ever to go into series production.”

BMW said the U.S. will be the most important sales market for the new high-performance vehicle.

BMW Concept XMBMW

In addition to previewing the new car, the German automaker said the Concept XM shows the new front-end design direction for BMW's future luxury models. The vehicle's front includes two large nostril grills, sleek headlights and a more aggressive front facia than the traditionally smoother lines found on BMW models.

The interior of the vehicle features vintage-look leather, copper and carbon fiber as well as a large digital information and command center.

“The BMW Concept XM represents a complete re-imagining of the high-performance vehicle segment,” BMW M CEO Franciscus van Meel said in a release. “It underlines the ability of BMW M GmbH to break with established conventions and push boundaries in order to offer fans of the brand the ultimate driving experience.”

BMW Concept XMBMW

The vehicle being a plug-in hybrid model may surprise some, given the automotive industry's current attention on all-electric vehicles, which do not include a traditional engine. BMW also has said it plans for at least 50% of its global deliveries to be all-electric vehicles by 2030.

Plug-in hybrid models are viewed by many as a steppingstone to fully electric vehicles. The BMW Concept XM includes up to 30 miles of all-electric driving, the automaker said Monday.

The unveiling of the concept vehicle comes three months after BMW CEO Oliver Zipse told CNBC that the company would be unveiling a new vehicle this year that would be built at its plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

The Spartanburg plant currently produces the BMW X3, X4, X5, X6 and X7 as well as performance models of most of the vehicles.

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