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BMW bringing 4-cylinder gasoline engines back to the US; more diesels to come

BMW powertrain strategy. Click to enlarge.

For the first time in more than a decade, BMW will once again offer a four-cylinder engine in the United States, said Jim O’Donnell, president BMW North America, in remarks at the Washington DC Auto Show.

The new four-cylinder engine combines twin-scroll turbocharging with both high-pressure direct injection and Valvetronic intake control, O’Donnell said. With 240 hp (179 kW) and 260 lb-ft (353 N·m)of torque, it offers more power and torque than BMW’s normally aspirated 3.0-liter inline six. BMW will soon announce what vehicles will feature this new turbo 4-cylinder in the US; the vehicles will be introduced before year-end.

We know there is still great potential for the continuing development of the internal combustion engine. Our insight tells us that this will still be the propulsion choice for between 85 and 95 percent of the world’s vehicles in the year 2020. So we continue to concentrate our innovation on making every new generation of BMW gas and diesel engines more efficient, cleaner, and better performing than the one that preceded it.

—Jim O’Donnell

BMW: relationship between cell and system characteristics for Li-ion for hybrids
Concurrent with the Washington show, Dr. Jens Vetter from BMW presented an overview of the company’s current findings on the relation between cell and system characteristics for Li-ion battery packs for hybrids at the Advanced Automotive Battery Conference (AABC) in Pasadena.)
Vetter addressed the general architecture of Li-ion storage systems with active thermal management, electrical and electronic components, and additional peripheral equipment. He concluded that storage system characteristics deviate in many aspects from the sum of cell characteristics, mostly to the worse.
Various effects have to be taken into account for a complete and thorough evaluation of battery characteristics, he said. Pack level requirement and inhomogeneities between cells in the pack contribute significantly to battery characteristics.
The impact of the different effects varies with the actual battery size and architecture and also with cell type.

In his talk, O’Donnell remarked that while “an enormous amount of buzz and attention has recently been generated due to the introduction of two very good new vehicles in the market”, it was doubtful that either would prompt a major sales shift in the near term.

After all in the US, even after fifteen years, hybrid vehicles still represent less than three percent of the market. But does this mean none of us should continue with electrical vehicle development? Not at all, and I’ll speak to our efforts in a minute. However, we all have to share the goal of developing these new generation vehicles for more than just the early adopters among us. We have to find a way to tap into the mainstream of American consumers without too much help from US taxpayers.

—Jim O’Donnell

O’Donnell said that BMW sees technologies such as stop/start playing a much greater role in the future. He also noted that diesel sales for the company were up strongly.

The BMW X5 enjoyed a 27 percent increase in sales in 2010. But, our X5 Advanced Diesel model sales were up 73 percent. Every one of these vehicles improved fuel efficiency on average more than twenty percent and provided better CO2 performance as well. In fact, nearly one in four X5s sold in 2010 were diesels. Sales of our 335d sedan were up 130 percent over 2009 and you’ll see more BMW Advanced Diesel models from us in the future.

—Jim O’Donnell

Like others, O’Donnell said, BMW is working on hybrid technology, and the company is continuing its work on hydrogen power. However, he noted, “without the infrastructure our program is on hold”.

BMW’s electric vehicle development strategy will enter its second phase later this year. The first step along this path was the MINI E; the next phase will see the BMW Active E be available for lease in an expanded group of markets including metropolitan areas of New York, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento and San Diego as well as the state of Connecticut.

The third step of the EV strategy is the Mega City Vehicle (earlier post), which will come to fruition in 2013, he said. Special emphasis is on light weight, compact size, and electric power.



I'll take a 320xd, thank you.


Most of the BMWs sold in Ireland are 4 cylinder (and mostly diesel).
The 320D is so good (0-60 in 8 seconds, 57mpg(US) combined cycle), that for most people there is no need for a larger engine. The same applies to the 520d.

However, we have very steep purchase taxes based on the CO2/km levels and these are keeping people in the smaller engined cars.

Anyway, with a speed limit of 75 mph, why do you need to go any faster than 140.


I fail to see what all the supposed environmentalists see in so called "clean diesels". They are no such thing; and each one produces more pollution than more than 1000 US ICE powered cars.

If they were truly clean and not just a propagandist's advert, I could support their use as they displace some fossil fuel usage. But long befroe the diesel is truly cleaned up to ICE standards, the HCCI revolution of semi-diesel ICEs will have arrived, that produce equivalent fuel economy, and routinely offer the prospect of the cleanest ICEs available,t eh PZEV or Zero Emissions Vehicle. The full equivalent of the EVs in the toxic pollution that they don't emit.

Please cease and desist with the constant hectoring on Green Car Congress in behalf of pollution pigs such as these phony "clean diesels".


@ ExDemo,

Please provide a source for your "each one [diesel] produces more pollution than more than 1000 US ICE powered cars" assertion.


@ Exdemo and Carl: diesel fuel is probematic from the source because its a distillate. Refinery distillation consumes energy as we all know from the corn-ethanol fiasco in the US.
This as compared to gasoline which is produced by catalytic cracking, a much more efficient process.


@ExDemo I think your numbers are unfounded and your info is out of date. Since the mid 00's new diesel models have the same emissions requirements as gasoline vehicles, which is why they disappeared with the 2005 year model and re-appeared in 2007 with blue-tech and other new controls. That is why they are now 50-state diesels. The older models couldn't be sold in California and 4 other states. Now they can.

So much for local pollutants, what about global? How can a 40% thermodynamically efficient technology be considered inferior to one that's 26% efficient? With such numbers emissions of CO2 will be way down too. Better yet use biodiesel, even better still use it in the full "field-to-wheel" cycle too.

Finally if you don't care for diesel engined vehicle as a personal choice, DON'T! Go buy a BEV and charge it with power from a coal-fired power station!

Refinery distillation consumes energy as we all know from the corn-ethanol fiasco in the US. This as compared to gasoline which is produced by catalytic cracking, a much more efficient process.
I think you have a badly mistaken view of the energy requirements for separating molecules by boiling point vs. re-arranging chemical bonds.

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