Spied: GM, BMW collaborate on hybrid 7-Series

Spy photographers caught a 2009 BMW 7-Series prototype entering GM's Proving Grounds today. The private facility is usually reserved for GM testing, so this was an especially rare occurrence. The only viable explanation? The Global Hybrid Cooperation alliance between GM, BMW, and Mercedes.

The GHC program is no secret, and these photos might be evidence that BMW is about to put all that research into action. The new two-mode Hybrid system was first unveiled on GM's GMT900 sport-utility vehicles, but will soon be adapted for use on the Saturn Vue, as well as for use on passenger cars -- like this new 7-series, for example.

BMW's development guru, Burkhard Goschel, explained the reason for the cooperative thusly: "The creation of a shared technology platform for hybrid drives will allow us to more quickly integrate the best technologies on the market." Industry sources suggest that the GHC is the most cost-effective, time-efficient method to play catch-up with the likes of Lexus, Toyota, and Honda, that have been focusing on Hybrids much longer.

Daimler and BMW representatives were reportedly on hand for the late-April preview of the two-mode Hybrid system on the GMT900 SUVs, and fielded some questions on their participation in this joint Hybrid program.

But when it came time to talk specifics about what BMW vehicles would get the two-mode Hybrid system, conversation ceased, and no details would be provided. This 7-series prototype's visit to the GM Proving Grounds appears to have answered that question.

For all other spy shots of the 2009 7-Series, click here.