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BMW unveils high-performance XM hybrid electric concept vehicle

BMW unveiled a new high-performance concept vehicle on Monday evening that heralds an electrified crossover set 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 features a V-8 engine combined with electric motors to deliver 750 horsepower and 737 foot-pounds of torque.

A BMW spokesperson declined to confirm whether the production vehicle would meet these performance measures, but a statement called the upcoming vehicle “the most powerful BMW M car ever to be produced in series.”

BMW has said the United States will be the most important sales market for the new high-performance vehicle.

In addition to previewing the new car, the German automaker said the Concept XM shows the new design direction ahead of future luxury models from BMW. The front of the vehicle features two large nostril grilles illuminated by lights, sleek headlamps and a more aggressive front instrument panel than the traditionally softer lines of BMW models.

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

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

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

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

The unveiling of the concept vehicle comes three months after BMW CEO Oliver Zipse told CNBC that the company will unveil a new vehicle this year that will 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 for most vehicles.

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