MINI & BMW to Share Plugin Hybrid Powerplant

As we broke in our interview with MINI USA Product Manager Vinnie Kung, MINI has axed the idea of bring diesels to the US market. But in talking about that decision a few things became clear about MINI & BMW ‘s four cylinder strategy given that the two will be sharing cars in the years ahead.

But first a quick recap. MINI will clearly be without a diesel in the line-up in the US. MINI USA had planned on bringing over the Cooper D for the 2010 model year as early as 2007. The plan was to use the engine without urea injection until 2015 when new EPA rules would go into effect. However the 2008 worldwide economiccollapse brought some unfortunately realities to BMW and all non-essential projects were cancelled.

Fast forward to 2009 and MINI USA was once again ready to get started selling diesels. However a new problem emerged when the EPA moved up a key date for cleaner emissions and thus urea injection became a mandatory. MINI USA investigated the idea and talked to everyone with the design and manufacturing process. The answer wasn ‘t pretty. The cost would be staggering considering the body in white would have to be altered to make room for the urea injection system. Once again the plan was shelved.

As we enter 2011 MINI USA is offering two petrol powered 1.6L engines with solid efficiency and good performance. But we all know that the MPG numbers both achieve will look antiquated in a few years. MINI and BMW knows this and engineers are busy within Germany working on the next generation of BMW & MINI powerplants.

What can we expect? We ‘ve talked a lot about the new range of 1.5L turbocharged three cylinder engines. More power, better MPG and lighter we expect great things from this new range of three bangers. We expect these engines to surface in the US market only in MINIs but to be a part of BMW ‘s 1001 FWD car and the 1 Series RWD models as well. But the engine strategy doesn ‘t end there.

As an official press release and spy-shots suggest, MINI is partnering with Getrag to produce a hybrid powertrain. We know literally nothing about this power plant. But what we can logically guess a few things:

  • It will be a plug-in hybrid given industry trends and a few sources
  • It will likely be featured in the larger models (like the Countryman) in the MINI line-up due to the extra components needed. In fact we ‘d be surprised if it was featured in anything BUT Countryman based models. Knowing that BMW is currently planning it ‘s own Countryman derivative there ‘s little question we expect the Roundel attached to this engine as well.
  • Because of the last bullet we look for this to be based on the 120 hp four cylinder Cooper engine from the current MINI generation.

Fast forward a few years and we could be seeing Hybrid Countryman based crossovers across the MINI and BMW lineup along with three cylinder MINI hatchbacks and convertible all getting around or over 50 mph on the highway (while being even quicker than today ‘s cars). And that ‘s not to even mention the new MINI City car coming around 2015 and the BMW iSetta premium electric range coming. Not a bad future in our minds.

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