Much like the i8, the X5 xDrive40e and 740e, the 330e at the touch of a button in Max eDrive mode can run on purely electric power. Here, the combustion engine only comes into play when the accelerator’s kickdown threshold has passed. In Save Battery mode, the battery’s charge can be maintained to enable electric driving later on in the journey. If the charge level drops below 50%, the battery is replenished.
The model will take on the Mercedes-Benz C350e, which has been on the market for quite some time and is built locally in East London.
While the market for plug-in hybrids remains minute locally compared to some European markets, they play a significant role in a marque’s fleet reduction of carbon emissions and, as such, we can expect more models of this variety to enter the segment. The argument remains that hybrid and electric cars command a premium over conventional diesel variants, but alternative fuel and renewable energy will continue to be on the brief for most car makers.
In the US, the 330e will sell well as that market is averse to diesels. With major cities such as London looking to ban combustion engine-powered vehicles in the city centre, the transition towards this new technology is inevitable.
For those looking to embrace the technology, BMW seems to be leading the charge with a complement of cars under its iPerformance banner. Much like its siblings, the 330e will remain a niche model in the South African context, but the tide will without doubt change in the not-too-distant future.