2011 MINI Cooper Countryman

2011 MINI Cooper Countryman

MINI’s parent company BMW is working on diesel-electric hybrid vehicles, as is its engine partner PSA Peugeot Citroen, but don’t hold your breath for such a model from the iconic British brand. That’s the word from MINI’s engine chief, Wolfgang Kuttler, who said the technology is just too expensive and heavy to be applied to MINI’s lineup of vehicles.

Speaking with Autocar, Kuttler explained that diesel-electric hybrid technology is only beneficial in urban environments but on the highway, common to many drivers both in Europe and the U.S., the fuel savings aren’t substantial enough to justify the expense of the system.

Instead, MINI will focus on improving the fuel economy of its more conventional turbodiesel engines, which Kuttler believes are currently only about 50 percent as efficient as they could be.

Some of the technologies planned include improving the efficiency of ancillary features, lowering internal friction, increasing injection pressure and optimizing turbo response, among other aspects. Variable valve timing could also achieve fuel economy gains but this too is a relatively expensive addition and is a much lower priority than the other measures.

For more details on diesel-electric hybrid technology and its current shortcomings, check out John Voelcker’s extensive report by clicking here.