BMW Advanced Diesel

With all the attention the sporty and sexier 1 has been getting it is no surprise that the ugly duckling named BMW Advanced Diesel with BluePerformance has been pushed to the side. Aside from another long name from those at BMW marketing this could be the best thing to hit the US shores in a long while. We are not here to preach conservation (though it is a great thing!) argue about what is better: diesel, E85 (not a chance), Hybrid, hydrogen or something else. We are here to talk about how BMW is going to implement a 50 state approved engine, lessened emissions while increasing efficiency and still managed to make performance strides.

The history of BMW diesels begins in the early 1980’s, the diesel in the 524td was viewed as the fastest diesel in the world. It was, as all other diesels, noisy, smelly and did we mention noisy? Twenty-five years have passed since then and a good deal of BMW research and use of technology has steadily improved the diesel engine. Much of the world has embraced these engines for their efficiency and overall performance but we in the US have had a difficult time getting those 1980’s Mercedes Benz and BMW smokers out of our minds. In Europe BMW sells more than 67% of all cars with one of a variety of diesel engines; that is right over half sold do not run on gas.

With rising gas prices and the US finally utilizing the low sulfur diesel fuels the rest of the world has used for years BMW has decided (along with several other German brands) to release them to the US market sometime later in the year. We will only see one engine initially and it will be available only in the 3 series sedan and the X5.

The engine powering these will be the stump pulling, award winning 3.0 liter variable twin turbo engine. It has about the same amount of horsepower a current gas engine would produce with mind boggling torque and is 25-30% more efficient: 265 hp and 425 lb/ft @1750 RPM.

As part of the Efficient Dynamics program this engine has been designed from the ground up to contribute to the overall efficiency of the vehicles. It has been designed using an aluminum crankcase, to decrease weight and not hamper overall driving dynamics. The piezo injectors that are part of the 3rd generation common rail system are designed to deliver precise quantities of fuel for performance and efficiency. Unlike its cousin, the N54 twin turbo gas engine, which uses both turbos simultaneously, this diesel benefits from variable and sequential boost. The smaller turbo spins up fast due to its low inertia (like the N54) then as engine speed increases the larger turbo kicks in its’ share of boost.

To deal with the emissions obstacles of diesel engines BMW utilizes a particulate filter, an oxidation catalyst and an SCR (Selective Catalytic Reaction) catalyst with urea injection being marketed as AdBlue. This reduces the levels of pollutants to a minimal level (less than gasoline engines in some instances). The urea injection system is used to reduce nitrous oxides (NOx) through a chemical reaction into environmentally friendly nitrogen and water vapor.

The urea injection system is comprised of two tanks, a dosage pump, some plumbing between them and the exhaust manifold. The smaller 1.6 gallon active tank and dosage lines are heated to prevent temperatures below 12˚ F from freezing the liquid. The 4.5 gallon passive (extra storage) tank is not heated. Depending on the application the tanks may be located in the rear of the car or in/near the engine bay (X5).

The size of the tanks should only require additional fluid when the vehicle requires an oil change. BMW is including the price for the refills of the AdBlue as part of the BMW maintenance program for 4 year 50K miles.

The real question is whether the increase in the purchase price of the vehicles will make the savings at the pump worthwhile. Pricing out diesel fuel locally today it was the same price as premium 93 octane gas, so by being 25% more efficient one would hope to see some savings at the pump and not lessen performance or driving pleasure.

It is also worth noting that this entire “Blue” nonsense is part of a larger marketing scheme BMW, MB, Audi, VW and several other manufacturers came up with to promote the new breed of diesel engines. All it really does is make things longer to say, write and read. Audi and VW recently went back to what they know best and what has previously proven to be successful: TDI.

We are looking forward to driving this engine stateside even though there will be no available manual transmissions.

As always we look forward to your comments.

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  • I admittedly do not know a great deal about Diesel – but I do know that the cost of Diesel fuel has gone up significantly in the US. Does it run that much more efficiently – both from a cleaner perspective and a better mileage perspective – to make this worth while at this point?

    Excuse my ignorance.

  • With BMW gas engines requiring premium and diesel costing the same the increased efficiency of diesel should save money at the pump. The increase in diesel prices can be attributed to the new fuels being rolled out and the weather requiring additional oil for heating. From what I understand diesel is cheaper to produc and produces more per barrel. In the EU it is cheaper compared to gas.

  • Matt

    I, for one, am very excited to see this technology finally making it stateside and could easily consider a 335d touring for my next “family” car.

  • Antonio

    I am excited with BMW diesel finally coming over, the only problem is not manual transmission is available (according to BMW that engine has too much torque). In my opinion, diesels are the answer for the short and intermediate term. They reliable powerful and extremely durable (you can still see the 80’s mercedes benz 300td all over the place).

    The numbers released from BMW are a little shy, If you compare with the european version for 335d the numbers are in the range of 35-41mpg. I do not know if is a strategy (remember prius initial numbers were really inflated and had a bad marketing impact when compare with reality checks) maybe BMW is working the opposite approach. Or in reality the extensive emission treatment had its toll on MPG. Will see when they come.

  • MPG is measured different here in the US as compared to the UK. It has to do with the imperial gallon vs. the gallon we use here.

  • You failed to mention that in Europe, diesel fuel benefits from significantly lower prices vs. gasoline, due to the fact that the Government taxes diesel at a lower rate. Wonder what the percentage of diesels vs. gasoline would be if the diesel price was actually higher as it is in the US?

  • <

    blockquote>You failed to mention that in Europe, diesel fuel benefits from significantly lower prices vs. gasoline, due to the fact that the Government taxes diesel at a lower rate. Wonder what the percentage of diesels vs. gasoline would be if the diesel price was actually higher as it is in the US?</blockquote

    I chose not to mention (not failed to) the taxes because it is not applicable to the US since each state taxes fuels at a different rate and can even depend on the county or town. It is also worth noting that the national average for low-sulfur diesel is actually the same price as premium gasoline so diesel is not priced higher on the national average. The US gave tax breaks and incentives for E85 making it a great deal cheaper than gas and that plan has not succeeded. Tax breaks and cheaper fuel does not make a winner or better product. The simple facts and the reasons for the tax in the EU on diesel is because it takes less oil to produce diesel, the efficiency is greater and the levels of pollution are now less, the added tax for gas is a penalty for efficiency and the increase in oil required to produce the fuel. This post was meant to introduce the diesel engines that have been missing for a long time here in the states…

  • Evan

    I’m elated that BMW is bringing its excellent 3.0 liter diesel to our shores. My initial concern is that as the top of the line engine and the added catalytic equipment, the price will be too high.

    Personally, I want the 2 liter 4-cylinder turbo engine, now in the 123d. The price would probably be low enough with great performance (just over 200lb-ft I believe) and gas mileage. Then the cost would more easily equal the mpg benefit.

    Since BMWs require premium fuel, as long as the price of diesel is at that price or a little lower, the increased mpg will be very beneficial. As above, the cost-benefit would have to be made within 3 years or less. We’ll see. If the 335d is the same price as the 335i, then I know which I’d take.

  • Antonio

    I agree with that, I have the same concern, Another good in between (performance/economy) could be the 330d (with manual transmission!!), but I think BMW is so afraid to lose some the equity of the brand in terms of being the ultimate driving machine, so is bringing its best diesel engine to the U.S. And most likely if the public response is favorable will trickle down to smaller diesel engines later on

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  • Scott

    I own a grey market 1996 BMW 725 tds. It’s a 5-speed manual turbo diesel. Interestingly, it’s not smoky, nor noisy (within reason of course). But it does get 31 mpg. Of course, all the gauges use the metric system, so I have to carry a calculator with me to make sure I am not speeding. LOL

    I’m actually looking at converting it over to bio-diesel. There are conversion kits that will allow me to run on diesel, bio-diesel, or WVO (waste veg oil).

    As clean as this car runs, I can only imagine what the new diesels would run like.