Hybrid vehicles we’re looking forward to from BMW, the i8 and ActiveTourer, and they both have one thing in common, a three-cylinder engine.
Engines are getting smaller and smaller in order to meet with increasingly strict fuel economy and emissions regulations. This doesn’t mean that all future vehicles are bound to be sanspersonality.
BMW’s new family of EfficientDyamics engines starts with a 1.5ℓ i3 [inline three-cylinder] engine developed over the last four years. Since there is no vehicle to put it in yet, namely the BMW i8 hybrid, there’s really no better way to test it than to stick it in something that’s just sitting on the lot. The smallest vehicle available, the BMW 1 Series, showed that the new engine has a lot of potential.
The new three-cylinder engine is turbocharged and is speed and efficiency controlled by the valve system [read: Valvetronic]. The combination of these technologies enables BMW to extract more power from fewer cylinders while reducing weight, parts, and fuel consumption.
The BMW 1 Series typically runs on a 3.0ℓ i6 [inline six-cylinder], but the new smaller engine was fairly capable, easily accelerating to highway speeds. Of course, with half the cylinders and half the displacement, one might expect that such a small engine to fail at such a task. The current version of the engine is certain to be tweaked some more before it enters production and gets mated to a hybrid drive system in the BMW i8 in 2014.
UPDATE: The title reads BMW i3, which was supposed to refer to the engine [i3 or inline three cylinder] which will eventually end up in the BMW i8 hybrid. A little sloppy with the acronyms on my part.