In its advertising campaigns, Minis are touted as fun-to-drive, economical sports cars. Always trying to improve upon its fleet-wide fuel economy, the automaker will aim to improve upon existing technology, specifically among diesel engines, without offering a hybrid model.
Mini has partnered with PSA (an alliance among Peugeot, Citroën, and others) for its engines in the past, but as the French automaker looks to begin implementing a diesel-hybrid system, Mini won't follow suit. Previously, BMW and PSA co-developed engines for Mini, but all Mini engines are now sourced from BMW. Although PSA plans to install a diesel hybrid system in the Citroën DS4 and Peugeot 508 in the coming months, Mini refuses to use it due to its high cost and excessive weight.
"It only brings fuel savings in town, not on the faster, more open roads," Wolfgang Kuttler, head of Mini diesel engines, told Autocar. The system would likely perform similarly as a gasoline hybrid, returning better fuel economy in city driving as compared to highway driving. The added expense wouldn't likely pay dividends in the United States, either.
To extract more than a perceived 50 percent from a diesel engine's potential power, Mini will "concentrate on improving ancillary drive, lowering internal friction, increasing injection pressure and optimizing turbo response, among other aspects," said Kuttler.
BMW is hard at work on a small-displacement, three-cylinder diesel engine, but Kuttler claims it will need to displace at least 1.5 liters to make sense. A smaller engine would potentially lower the cachet commonly attributed to BMW and Mini vehicles in the U.S.
What do you think? Will diesel hybrids ever make it to the U.S., or is the proposition too expensive and risky? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.