BMW’s smaller, cleaner future

BMW is looking at a number of measures to improve the fuel economy and eco-friendliness of its fleet, from a new urban runabout to dropping a cylinder or two in the name of green motoring.

By Kelly Lodewyks

CARtoday recently reported that BMW has plans for a possible revival of its 1950’s Isetta “bubble car”. A project surrounding such plans has just been confirmed by the German manufacturer… well, in a way at least.

News has surfaced that work on a top-secret new eco-friendly urban runabout has been taking place at BMW. The new eco-mini has not officially been given the “Isetta” badging, and is for now known as Project i – “i” for innovation and not “Isetta” says BMW company chairman, Norbert Reithofer.

As for where it fits into the BMW stable, Reithofer says that it will complement the existing BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce ranges. “We will look at all these things before we decide whether this might be a sub-brand for BMW or Mini, or whether it is a standalone marque,” said Reithofer.

Keeping it clean and green, Project i will possibly make use of advanced electric systems and fuel-efficient petrol and diesel powerplants. Hybrid powerplants are already in the pipeline for BMW’s X6 crossover SUV, and Mini and BMW road cars are available with the option of Efficient Dynamics technologies.

Staying with BMW’s environmental consciousness, Reithofer has revealed that the company is also looking at shoving downscaled turbocharged units under the bonnets of it M-division cars. There has already been confirmation that the company’sV8 diesel units are being phased out and Reithofer says that BMW will now “ be focusing on its six-cylinder engines as it attempts to improve its emissions and fuel consumption levels in light of stricter regulations set to roll in over the next decade.”

Over at camp Mercedes, it seems that the same trend is sweeping through there. According to a recent article on CARtoday, Mercedes development chief, Thomas Weber, said that Mercedes “will strongly force the trend in downsizing” – for both diesel and petrol models. Weber claims that the recent trend of using larger engines to power vehicles would be “sharply reversed,” and its V8 units are also under investigation for downsizing.

As for the other manufacturer in the “Teutonic trio”, who knows! What we do know is that Audi is still going full steam ahead with its plans to shoehorn V8s and V10s under the bonnet of its latest and “greatest” performance models. But with all the new laws being implemented over the next few years, it seems only a matter of time before news surfaces that Audi will also downsize in a bid to “clean” up its act.

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