With most car companies today making the most out of small capacity engines with turbochargers and energy-saving hardware, BMW appears to be preparing for the next big change for the 3-Series (along with the new 4-Series) as the company will reportedly make the next-gen M3 a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.

According to The Detroit Bureau, senior company officials stated that they learned new ideas from the BMW i sub-brand that spawned such cars like the all-electric i3 and the i8 hybrid sports car. One company official also stated that they were unsure at first on how to merge BMW performance with hybrid tech. But as time went on, the possibility of a high-performance hybrid M car may is more feasible today.

The company plans to add more power to the two nameplates while making it more environmentally-friendly to meet more stringent emission and fuel economy standards. Currently, the F80 M3 and F82 M4 are driven by a 3.0-liter TwinPower Turbo inline-six engine that delivers 431 PS and 550 Nm of torque to the rear wheels. If the planned hybrid configuration pulls through, it will reportedly get a 100 Nm increase in torque though the estimated horsepower rating was not revealed.

The BMW M4

In keeping with tradition, the proposed PHEV M3 will still be available in RWD but it can also be geared for AWD with the help of a front axle-mounted electric motor that will power the front wheels.

The senior officials however revealed that when it was first mentioned internally, most did not like the idea of making the M3 go hybrid as the added hardware will make for a heavier weight. But with lithium-ion batteries getting lighter and more compact, it will not put too much weight on the two cars.

And with their specialty in carbon fiber fabrication, the company may also use the lightweight material in making the frame, chassis and body panels in order to offset the additional weight.

Source: The Detroit Bureau