LA 2009: BMW Declares War on Lexus LS Hybrid with 455-hp ActiveHybrid 7

BMW officially declared war today on the Lexus LS hybrid, with its own hybrid version of the 7 Series. A hybrid 7 of any sort would be a serious competitor to the LSh, but the ActiveHybrid 7 is a true BMW, offering not only a dynamic drive (relatively speaking), but a big increase in performance with 455-hp on tap.

Debuting today at the LA Auto Show for the first time in North America, the ActiveHybrid 7 uses the same twin-turbocharged V8 as found in the 750i, but pairs it with an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack to make 455hp and 515 ft-lbs of torque – that’s an increase of 25-hp and 35 ft-lbs of torque over the standard gasoline engine. The result is impressive performance and modest fuel economy. BMW claims it can race to 60 mph in just 4.8 seconds.

Due to the use of a state-of-the-art lithium-ion battery pack, the unit measures just 14.6 x 8.7 x 9.1 inches and only weights 59.5 lbs, making it just slightly heavier and larger than a conventional car battery. BMW has located the lithium-ion unit under the trunk floor, keeping an adequate amount of trunk space

The new ActiveHybrid 7 also features regenerative braking, as well as a start-stop system. Impressively, even when the engine is shut off at a stop light, the air conditioning continues to run as is it powered electronically, not by the gasoline engine.

No official EPA fuel economy numbers are available yet but BMW says the car should get an average of 24 mpg. It should be noted that BMW’s estimates for the X6 ActiveHybrid proved to be far removed from the EPA’s ratings, so perhaps the same will hold true for the 7. (So far, in independent testing, the car has achieved an average rating of around 21 mpg, which is on par with the Lexus LS hybrid).

The BMW ActiveHybrid 7 is set to go on sale in the Spring of 2010 as both a conventional wheelbase and an extended wheelbase version (in order to perfectly compete with the Lexus LS600hL). Pricing is expected to be just over $100,000.

GALLERY: BMW ActiveHybrid 7 Debut in LA