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BMW Nixes BLUETEC Alliance

23 November 2006

335d_1
Diesel vehicles such as the new 335d apparently won’t be coming to the US anytime soon.

Reuters. BMW will not ally with DaimlerChrysler and Volkswagen/Audi around the BLUETEC platform for diesels in the US.

In October, Automobilewoche had reported that Volkswagen and its premium Audi unit, BMW and DaimlerChrysler’s Mercedes-Benz would all use the BLUETEC system developed by Mercedes-Benz and Bosch to meet US Tier 2 Bin 5 requirements for diesel light-duty vehicles starting in 2008. (Earlier post.)

BMW has no plans to enter the US diesel market anytime soon, according to the Reuters report, and will not use the BLUETEC name or architecture.

The world’s biggest premium carmaker, a fierce rival of DaimlerChrysler’s luxury Mercedes brand, first wants to develop a urea-based technology to reduce nitrogen oxides before considering a sustained entry into the US diesel market.

“We are in the process of thinking of a name that is different from BLUETEC,” a spokesman for BMW said on Wednesday.

Volkswagen, Audi and Mercedes are planning to market diesels in the US under the BLUETEC name as an alternative technology to counter the success of Toyota’s hybrids.

“Three brands have more power,” a Volkswagen spokesman said on Wednesday, adding Mercedes’ sister brand Chrysler would also join the alliance at a later date. A formal announcement was due on Nov. 28 ahead of the Los Angeles car show.

November 23, 2006 in Diesel, Emissions | Permalink | Comments (14) | TrackBack (0)

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Comments

BMW has no plans to enter the US diesel market anytime soon

Hmm - looks like BMW is an "anti-diesel zealot wingnut." ;)

Maybe they will license the plasma treatment honda developed for diesel exhaust. Plasma neutralizes about everything.

BMW might also just be protecting its brand image. We all know that diesel does not have a sexy image over here, or even basic widespread customer acceptance of it for utilitarian goals. If BMW as a brand means anything over here, it means luxury, status and a sort of "driving pleasure." That doesn't overlap much with diesel, so I'd be very surprised if BMW did anything different.

Just to be clear -- I don't mean to say that all those good qualities don't overlap with diesel in reality. They can and do in well built diesels for the European market. The point is that the perception of diesel cars does not line up with the perception of all those good qualities, and I'm guessing that BMW is not out to become a missionary. I'm sure they are content to let VW play that part.

I think you are correct NBK. Until BMW looses sales to MB or VW diesels they may be reluctant to bring modern diesel to the U.S.A.

I agree with the views that BMW is doing this for marketing reasons, but it's a big loss for NA. BMW's current diesels got wonderful reviews from Car and Driver - shame we don't have that option here.

Diesels need to be marketed to commercial fleets (police, taxi, muni, etc.) where their 30-40% fuel savings and lower maintenance "sexiness" will be most appreciated.
The great performance will be frosting for us pro-diesel zealot wingnuts.

In the 80s and early 90s, BMW did market its gasoline engines as the premium option, for good reason. DI and turbocharging were brand-new to diesels, the puttered and puffed etc. Fast forward to 2006 and 60-70% of BMWs sold in Europe feature diesel engines, including an inline 6 option with sequential turbochargers.

BMW is probably just loath to appear as if it depended on arch-rival Mercedes for anything at all. If US consumers warm to the idea of Tier 2 Bin 5 diesels, expect BMW to join the fray. All of these systems come from the supply chain anyhow and, SCR requires only modest co-ordination with the engine control unit (no switching back-and-forth between lean and rich modes, as with NOx store catalysts).

This is kinda the whole chicken-and-egg concept. Manufacturers will bring diesel to NA if the consumer has interest/demand. The problem is how can consumers demand such vehicles if they don't have access to them.

I'd like to see BMW (an other manufacturers) do a demo day of their diesel vehicles. Go to big cities, bring a few vehicles (320d, 335d, 730d, etc.) let consumers drive them and compare them to their gasoline counterparts. Maybe do a 1/4 mile demo with a 320i and a 320d to show how close they are in performance. Then BMW, or other manufacturers, could gauge consumer interest.

Good idea, no?

Sounds like a great idea to me, John. Hopefully BMW will pick it up. I still think BMW will not bring diesels here for peculiar marketing reasons rather than lack of a market for them. However, I agree with Rafael that if Mercedes and Audi are able to sell diesels in the premium segment, BMW will probably change its mind and magically start bringing them over.

John -

there a few die-hard diesel enthusiasts in the US, mostly driving VW Jettas and the like. Mercedes did take a bunch of E-class cars to Texas last year in a high-speed endurance demonstration.

http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/Features/articleId=105899

They did something similar (at normal speeds but through difficult terrain) this year by driving a small fleet from Paris to the Beijing auto show.

http://www.autobloggreen.com/2006/11/17/mercedes-benz-paris-to-beijing-rally-over-after-28-days-and-14-0/

What I think you're talking about, though, is giving prospective customers the opportunity to drive today's diesels on a closed track. In terms of the customer experience, the aftertreatment devices would not make much of a difference. My guess is they haven't done this yet because EPA and CARB only very recently agreed to allow SCR systems, without which they'd just be whetting consumer appetites they couldn't satisfy anytime soon.

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