Patent filings suggest that BMW Motorrad may be working on a hybrid boxer engine with an internal combustion engine with an electric motor. The patent was originally filed with Germany's patent office in 2017, but it was only published last week. The latest images of the hybrid patent could be for the next generation of BMW boxer engines, but could also be a completely new line of technology, and it's still not clear when we will see a production version. What they do suggest is that BMW Motorrad has been toying with the idea of hybrid boxer engines, and it could well be part of future technology which we may see on BMW motorcycles.
The new patent images package the internal combustion engine with the electric motor, both delivering power to the rear wheel. The ICE and the electric motor are connected through an adapter which has a clutch and gear assembly mounted on it. The images suggest that through this assembly, the electric motor can drive the crankshaft, delivering power through a regular clutch and transmission. The motor is also likely to function as a generator, converting mechanical power from the engine into electricity.
The adapter is believed to be a key part of the technology being patented, and it allows the drive train to be modular, making it easy for BMW to adopt different electric motors. This allows the possibility of swapping in a different electric motor on an internal combustion boxer engine, which could dramatically increase the motorcycle's power output. The patent drawings are still sketchy, and it's difficult to gauge what they mean. The only thing that is clear is that hybrid technology is being considered for motorcycles, and that could well mean we may something in the near future.