Would a 4 cylinder diesel engine make sense in the U.S. market?

3-Series | August 23rd, 2009 by 29

Ever since BMW announced the introduction of the 335d and X5d in the U.S. market, we’ve been asking ourselves if a smaller, more efficient, but …

Ever since BMW announced the introduction of the 335d and X5d in the U.S. market, we’ve been asking ourselves if a smaller, more efficient, but still powerful diesel engine would make sense in our, still uneducated, American market.

By uneducated, we’re referring to the long time opposition and reluctance in regards to diesel powered cars. While the European market has been embracing the diesel power for many years now, those of us that live in the U.S. have been spoiled with large, powerful and less efficient gasoline powerplants.

Several myths surrounding the diesel engines have been going around for years now, from the loudness of a diesel engine and diesel engines lacks the punch, to “diesel is dirty” and diesel fuel is found mainly at truck stops. Every one of these myths have been demolished in the past years when automakers introduced new, clean technologies that make diesel engines a viable and attractive solution for many people.

bmw 320d 11 654x436 Would a 4 cylinder diesel engine make sense in the U.S. market?

When BMW announced a few days ago the introduction of the 320d Ultra Efficient 57 mpg vehicle, BMW community began to discuss the business logic behind the introduction of a similar engine in the our market. 320d is powered by a four cylinder 2.0 liter turbo diesel engine with maximum power of 120kW (163hp) made between 3,500rpm and 4,200rpm. Peak torque is 265 lb-ft (360Nm) and it is available from 1,750rpm to 3,000rpm. Performance is good with a 0-60 mph (0 – 100km/h) time of 8.2 seconds and a top speed of 140 mpg( 225km/h).

The opinions are split, including ours, some believe that BMW has to maintain the image of a premium automaker in the U.S., automatically implying powerful and larger engine displacement. The introduction of a four cylinder diesel powerplant in the U.S. is seen by some as brand-diminishing, a move that could hurt BMW’s reputation.

On the other side, many people argue back that things are changing, evolving, every automaker is looking to position themselves for the future and  that BMW’s EfficientDynamics program is a step forward towards a more profitable brand.

There is no secret that BMW’s future strategy revolves around efficiency and next models will fully take advantage of existing and new technologies.

In our opinion, the BMW 320d, a possible 323d and especially the 123d Coupe would be ideal for our U.S. market and in time and the right marketing campaign, consumers will come to appreciate the value of a clean, powerful and very efficient diesel engine. Of course, it will be a niche when compared to the gasoline powered bimmers, but in time, things could shift in their favor and the profit margins become larger.

So, what do you think?

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