BMW is planning to thin its internal-combustion herd, but won't let it go extinct

Gas engines have a long future at BMW, according to an interview given by its head of R&D.

Kyle Hyatt Former news and features editor
Kyle Hyatt (he/him/his) hails originally from the Pacific Northwest, but has long called Los Angeles home. He's had a lifelong obsession with cars and motorcycles (both old and new).
Kyle Hyatt
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Pretty soon, you'll have to settle for a V8 or an inline-6 in this big boy.


Internal combustion engines are still the most prevalent means of getting a vehicle moving, but some kinds of engines are having a tough time staying relevant. These include large-displacement engines with lots of cylinders and diesels. This is especially true at BMW .

The German automaker is planning on trimming down its ICE offerings in the coming years, specifically its quad-turbo inline-six cylinder diesel engine, its entry-level 1.5-liter three-cylinder diesel and its massive, dinosaur-like 6.6-liter V12, according to a report published Monday by Automotive News Europe.

Does this thinning of the internal combustion-powered herd mean that BMW's bailing on the technology entirely? Nope, according to BMW's head of research and development, Klaus Froehlich.

"Our four- and six-cylinder diesels will remain for at least another 20 years and our gasoline units for at least 30 years," Froehlich told the publication.

Why get rid of these engines then? Well, in the case of the quad-turbo diesel I6, it's just much too complicated and expensive to build, especially in a world where BMW offers a plug-in hybrid with similar performance figures and excellent fuel economy.

The V12 is doomed by emissions as well as cost. It's a very low-production engine for BMW but still costs vast sums of money to keep it in line with ever-tightening European emissions regulations. Furthermore, the benefits of having so many cylinders in a luxury car -- namely smoothness and torque -- are being reproduced more efficiently by six- and eight-cylinder engines with mild hybrid or plug-in hybrid drivetrains.

As for BMW's littlest diesel, the 1.5-liter three-cylinder, BMW's R&D boss didn't give too many specifics, but we'd suspect that it's just not an especially popular engine in the markets where it's sold. This is likely thanks in large part to all the diesel emissions scandals of the last few years and the increasing efficiency of cleaner gasoline-powered engines.

BMW didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Are we sad to see these motors fall by the wayside? No, not really -- though the V12 going stings a bit. There are just better, cleaner, cheaper and more efficient ways of doing things now, and sometimes even a company like BMW with "motor" right in its name has to shed some dead weight.

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