Speaking to an Automotive Press Association luncheon today in Detroit, Jim O’Donnell made it clear that BMW was firmly committed to diesel technology even as it begins to roll out hybrid and electric vehicles. BMW delivered 500 electric MINI Es earlier this summer and recently announced its first two hybrid models, the X6 and 7 ActiveHybrids. Nonetheless, O’Donnell indicated that the diesels are better suited to some of the larger models than the hybrids or electrics. At this point, diesels fit BMW’s performance image better than the other options.
For example, the 335d that launched late last year matches the performance of the original M3 while offering vastly better fuel efficiency. BMW doesn’t typically break out individual model sales but O’Donnell indicated that since the beginning of 2009, over 2,600 diesel 335ds and X5s have been sold. O’Donnell indicated that a 5-Series diesel may be coming eventually as well. This will likely happen when the new 5-Series sedan launches next year.
O’Donnell made it clear that BMW was committed to pursuing a number of technical paths including electric, hybrid and hydrogen. However, O’Donnell expects diesel penetration in segments like the X5 to hit 20-30% in the coming years.