BMW continues to make some of the best big engines out there as is shown year after year with the wins in the engine of the year contest. But what happens when you make something so great (reputably the BEST) and nobody wants it? You must shift gears and adjust to the market ‘s demands. That is want BMW intends to do, rid itself of the V8 and V12 gas guzzlers in favor of smaller 4 cylinder power-plants. The real disheartening fact is that the silky smooth and fairly efficient I-6 may be set to get the boot sometime in the not so distant future.

New CAFE regulations and rising fuel prices are to blame (or thank) for this change in mentality. BMW has shown the greatest increase in overall fuel economy and decrease in greenhouse gas emissions of any other manufacturer and with MINI and future electric car plans the brand still will have issues meeting the new standards.

From the Auto News via Motoring Authority/ Motor Trend:

The chairman of BMW ‘s works council Manfred Schoch goes so far as to say “we are producing the wrong engines here, ” and that the entire global demand for V-8 engines can be met through running just one shift per day, four days a week. In addition the interest in 10 and 12-cylinder engines found in BMW ‘s high-performance vehicles also continues to decrease.
According to Schoch, BMW is working to retool plants to build more four-cylinder engines as quickly as it can. Supposedly BMW plans to phase out six-cylinder production at its Munich factory and begin building 320,000 four-cylinder mills a year starting in 2011. Schoch also claims the automaker is also developing an all-electric vehicle based on the 1 Series called the City Electric Sprinter, which may debut in 2010. As we already know, BMW will have electric Minis in California part of their plan to implement a zero emissions vehicle for use in cities.

It interesting to note that BMW is still developing the sporty version of the already gas hungry X5 and X6, and in ///M form.

What this means is that we may finally see the return of the 4 cylinder engine to the US, helping decrease weight and providing more efficiency. While there will still be a demand for the high performance motors in larger displacement, the offerings will not be for the masses and we welcome that. As many of you have been saying, the US needs some smaller engine offerings and decreased weight of the cars. Someone is listening (or caving to the CAFE) and as a whole we will all be better for it.

What do you think about these possibilities? Our sources have indicated the possibility of a 4 cylinder 1 so these changes may not be that far off.