BMW considers fitting US vehicles with three-cylinder engines

Article by Anita Panait, on October 2, 2012

BMW is mulling a three-cylinder engine for its vehicles marketed in the United States. Ian Robertson, BMW AG board member for sales and marketing, said at the Paris Auto Show that the hybrids with a three-cylinder engine are “coming rapidly." A source at BMW told Automotive News that three-cylinder engines will be installed on the vehicles of the Mini brand as well as on the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid in the US.

In Europe, BMW is considering a plan to power vehicles based on its new front-wheel-drive UKL platform with three-cylinder engines. The source disclosed to Automotive News that the three-cylinder engine could be used in both hybrid and non-hybrid vehicles. BMW is displaying a Concept Active Tourer, a compact FWD wagon that is fitted with a plug-in hybrid powertrain.

The Concept Active Tourer is powered by electric motor and a 1.5-liter three-cylinder gasoline engine that provides up to 190 hp of power, according to Robertson. BMW’s board member for sales and marketing said that the 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine behaves like a six-cylinder. He remarked though that it is half of a six-cylinder engine and has the noise of a six cylinder.

He also quipped that the output from the three-cylinder engine exceeds imaginations. According to Robertson, customers don't necessarily want to "know the ins and outs" of their engine, "but they want performance." BMW is not the only carmaker aiming to introduce three-cylinder engines to the US, as Ford Motor Co. has announced it will bring its three-cylinder, 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine to the country. Although Ford has yet to disclose which vehicle the engine would be installed, sources privy to the matter said it will likely be the Fiesta.

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