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Report: BMW Looking to Bring Back 4-Cylinder Engines to the U.S.

Smaller, more fuel-efficient engines likely needed to meet new fuel-economy regulations

 |  Jul 21 2009, 1:03 PM

2009 bmw 128i convertible 23286

BMW is looking at bringing back for-cylinder engines to the U.S. in order to meet tough new fuel-economy regulations. BMW’s engineering boss, Tom Baloga, told Bloomberg that the smaller and more fuel-efficient engines were likely needed in order to meet the Obama Administration’s 2016 CAFE regulations, which call for a new fleet average of 35.5 mpg – up from 27.3 mpg for 2011.

Last year BMW’s fleet-wide average was 26.5 mpg.

Currently BMW sells the 1 Series, 3 Series, 5 Series and X3 with four-cylinder engines overseas, where fuel-efficient diesel options are also popular. In fact, Baloga says that due to the high volume of diesel sales in Europe, the automaker’s current European fleet average would already meet the 2016 CAFE regulations.

BMW currently offers a high-performance 3 Series diesel, the 335d, in the U.S., but Baloga says BMW will not rely on diesels to offset less fuel-efficient models as demand for diesels in the U.S. isn’t high enough to make a difference.

The real issue in bringing over four-cylinder engines, says Baloga, is keeping the focus on performance. That being said, the four-cylinder models are likely to either be turbocharged or used in significantly lighter models.

BMW is also looking at growing its offering of 1 Series models in the U.S., with numerous new models planned. The higher sales volumes of the more efficient engines will also help to increase BMW’s fuel-efficiency fleet average.

[Source: Bloomberg]