July 10 (Bloomberg) -- Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, the world’s biggest maker of luxury cars, probably will bring back four-cylinder engines to meet tougher U.S. fuel-economy standards, the company’s top North American engineer said.
The automaker, which hasn’t offered the smaller engines in the U.S. since 1999, wants to boost fuel efficiency without hurting its reputation for performance vehicles, said Tom Baloga, BMW’s vice president of engineering for the U.S.
“The biggest challenge will be maintaining the ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’ performance,” he said in an interview yesterday, referring to the Munich-based company’s marketing motto.
Automakers must boost industrywide average fuel economy to 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016 under U.S. rules adopted in May that moved up the deadline by four years. BMW will have a harder time meeting the tougher standards than most companies because it has a smaller vehicle lineup and focuses on compact, powerful models, Baloga said.
BMW’s fleetwide average was 26.5 mpg in 2008, he said. The exact increases for individual automakers haven’t been set yet because the government is still writing the new standards.
Baloga wouldn’t say when BMW might resume offering four- cylinder engines in the U.S. About 50 percent of the company’s models worldwide use them, he said.
Outside the U.S., BMW uses four-cylinder engines on models such as 1-series and 3-series cars, as well as the X3 sport- utility vehicle and one of its 5-series cars.
BMW’s vehicles in Europe already could meet the U.S. standard for 2016 because 67 percent are diesel-powered, Baloga said. The company offers diesels in the U.S. on the 335D sedan and a version of the X5 SUV.
The automaker hasn’t announced plans for more diesels in the U.S. and doesn’t expect to rely on a high percentage of such models to meet the fuel rules, Baloga said. BMW’S U.S. unit is based in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey.
To contact the reporters on this story: Mike Ramsey in Southfield, Michigan, at [email protected]
Sources: Bloomberg: BMW May Use 4-Cylinder Engines in the U.S. REPORT: BMW admits four-cylinders are likely headed back to U.S. My dealer confirmed the 1-series will receive a diesel option next year.