New US Efficiency Standards & What they Mean for MINI

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Today the US government announced new efficiency standards that will (for the first time in recent memory) unify all states around the same set of standards. It will also greatly influence automotive products and new engines in the coming years.

The new CAFE standard will grow 5% from 2011 onward until 2016. At that time US automakers needs to an fleet average (for cars) of 42 mpg. That’s an increase of 14.5 mpg as compared to what is currently law.

But how does it relate to MINI? Luckily for BMW and MINI the current crop of engines are already quite efficient as compared with other 4 cylinder power plants in the US. Yet, as a fleet they will need to average far more than they do now considering the Cooper S and JCW numbers impact the overall average. A scary thought for more than a few of us.

Which brings us to the question of, what comes next? MINI could certainly turn or refresh the current crop of Prince engines to produce better mpg. MINI currently sells two versions of the MINI One with 94 and 78 bhp respectively that get around that magical 42 mpg figure. Beyond that MINI has the Cooper D (and a soon to be much higher rated diesel) that averages almost 50 mpg in US numbers. The 2.0L diesel in the BMW 123d is the real exciting engine and the one that MINI is currently testing in prototypes. With over 200 hp and 240 ft lbs of torque in current BMW 123d form (don’t be surprised to see this tuned down) this engine will be the diesel equivalent to a JCW many of us have been waiting for. That will likely form the basis of both a MINI and BMW four cylinder US diesel offering if BMW bosses give the go ahead.

Of course the wheels are still very much in motion so check back for updates as we get them.

Official BMW Release: BMW Group supports Obama Administration’s Proposal on Future National Fuel and Green House Gas Regulations

The BMW Group is in agreement with the direction outlined today by President Obama and his Administration to have the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation;s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) work together toward one national standard for regulating future greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy. “The announcement today by President Obama is a major step in the right direction for automotive manufacturers in the United States such as the BMW Group,” said Friedrich Eichiner, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG. “Consistency of legislation and planning certainty are not only crucial for synchronizing product development and regulatory requirements but also for enabling companies to remain viable, profitable and sustainable.”

With a view to the challenging new targets in the US the BMW Group can build upon its extensive technological expertise and innovative know-how in developing environmentally friendly technologies that have already enabled the company to reduce its carbon output and increase fuel efficiency over the past several years.

In the US, the recent report entitled “Automakers’ Corporate Carbon Burdens” published by the Environmental Defense Fund found that the BMW Group had reduced fuel consumption and CO2 emissions in the US more than any other automotive company between 1990 and 2005.

In Europe, the BMW Group also achieved fuel consumption levels that were the best among any premium auto manufacturer between 1995 and 2008, exceeding the voluntary commitment made by the Association of European Automobile Manufacturers to reduce average CO2-emissions by 25 per cent from 1995 to 2008. Such achievements have enabled the BMW Group to be ranked as the most sustainable automotive company in the world for the past four consecutive years.

Innovative fuel and emission reduction solutions are part of the Efficient Dynamics program of the BMW Group, which is integrated throughout the company´s fleet. Since the spring of 2007 well over one million vehicles incorporating Efficient Dynamics measures have reached customers around the world. The launch of BMW Advanced Diesel this year will deliver further potential for fuel consumption reduction in the US. Later this year, the company will also introduce innovative hybrid systems.

In addition to these efforts, the BMW Group is testing more than 600 electric MINI E vehicles both on the East and West coast of the US as well as in Germany and possibly soon in the UK to gain valuable insight and experience for a series version of an electric vehicle, which is expected to be launched by 2015. This demonstrates the BMW Group´s drive towards sustainable mobility and will help the US Government in its commitment towards a cleaner environment.

  • bee1000

    This is great news! For too long automakers have made cars more and more powerful instead of using advancements to make them more efficient. This may finally turn the tide. Give me 100 hp per ton and 50 mpg, please!

  • JonPD

    Think BMW/Mini are a bit ahead of the curve on some of this. I expect the Prince engine while still in production could be fine tuned a bit more. Also with the news of them producing more 4 and 3 cylinder motors. I do worry a bit about the how this will impact the JCW brand. Guessing Mini will fare much better with this move than BMW will.

    Still a lark that time after time they crack down on small cars and light trucks trying to increase their efficiency. Meanwhile 5 ton SUV’s/Trucks are protected since they are the key to the US auto makers. So Obama honestly thinks getting a few mpg out of a Mini will help us turn the corner while a huge number of SUV’s and Trucks out there dream of 20mpg. With the large percentage of large vehicles on the road if he was honest in improving the environment and efficiency why not address full sized vehicles first?

  • nervous

    Educate me… “US automakers needs to an fleet average (for cars) of 42 mpg.”

    What does this mean? Automakers have to offer a fleet that averages 42 mpg, or Automakers total sales have to average 42 mpg?

  • Evan

    Large trucks and SUVs will also have new, higher MPG requirements. They also have an inherently more difficult time attaining the mileage simply based upon physics. Also, if you look at truck and SUV sales in the USA right now, well, they’re pretty low and will likely continue at this level or lower in the years to come. The newer car-based “crossovers” will fill the niche with better ecomony as well.

    MINI will be fine with the mileage, and BMW will plan corporate averages to allow the performance cars to carry on. Including opening M to turbo, smaller cylinder and displacement too. I’d love the 123d engine over here. Throw it in a USA bound 3er and/or the 1er plus the MINI. That’d be great. Once the USA gets stop-start and the next generation of vehicles engineered to be lighter in weight come out, we’ll be in a better place.

    A national standard is also better than the fractioning we see now.

  • Timothy

    One side effect of the increased fuel standards should be a weight reduction program for all vehicles, includimg MINIs. Long overdue, in my opinion.

  • Dr Obnxs

    Really, this is only a half step, but the full step isn’t possible in the US. So we should all be happy thiat this is happening. If you look at buying habits of the US auto consumer, the decision is more based on what can be bought now with an emphisis on the short term not the long term. This is why the market has failed so badly at delivering higher MPG vehicles to the US light vehicle fleet (and also explains why the SUV/Pickup sales started to rise again when fuel prices dropped.)

    Really, the right thing to do would be a carbon tax that would raise the price of fuel like in Europe. But that’s political suicide here and we’ll never do it.

    Practically, this means that the US light vehicle fleet offerings will accelerate direct injection, start-stop technologies, and super or turbo charging smaller displacement engines to give the power levels buyers want with increased fuel efficiencies. While many of these technologies are available now, market penetration of them isn’t nearly what it could be.

    FWIW, I was at a talk by Bob Lutz where he said that there really was no technical reason why these standards couldn’t be met, he just thought CAFE was a stupid way to go about (favoring gas tax approaches to change the buying habit of purchasers instead of supply-side mandates).

    Yes, Mini is well positioned here, but BMW will have to do some work (that they’re already doing). Large BMWs have a lot more work and have pretty bad carbon footprints (like the 650s and 550s, and the larger V8s). So while BMW has the technology, they also have a fleet mix that has a lot of large, powerful cars that aren’t well alligned with the new mileage targets.


  • JonPD

    Agreed Timothy, I am a long term fan of reduced weight in cars. I can tell you though that as long as we have 5k behemoths roaming the streets operated by unusually distracted drivers exhibiting the low level of driving skills in the US that weight reduction will always be a tender point with BMW for crash worthiness.

    I am hoping this move by the Obama administration forces a drastic weight removal for a pretty much all vehicles.

  • bee1000

    Wikipedia: Fleet fuel economy is calculated using a harmonic mean, not a simple arithmetic mean (average).

    The harmonic mean captures the fuel economy of the fleet for driving each car in the fleet for 1 mile while the arithmetic mean captures the fuel economy of the fleet for driving each car until one gallon of gas is burned (i.e. the 13 MPG vehicle would be driven for 13 miles while the 100 MPG vehicle would be driven for 100 miles).

    For example, a fleet of 4 vehicles getting 15, 13, 17, and 100 mpg has a CAFE of slightly less than 19 mpg:


    While the arithmetic mean is over 36: (15+13+17+100)/4

  • bee1000

    One more thing to point out – the CAFE is not weighted based on sales.

    In the example above, selling one 100 MPG car and 100 each of the lower MPG cars nets the same CAFE as if all the cars were sold in equal numbers.

    Odd, but calculating based on sales would have to be done retroactively, I guess.

  • @Dr Obnxs: Could not agree more with everything you stated.

  • The new cafe standard is 35.5 MPG, Mini should be good with this for a long time to come. (The new rules would bring new cars and trucks sold in the United States to an average of 35.5 miles per gallon, about 10 mpg more than today’s standards. Passenger cars will be required to get 39 mpg, light trucks 30 mpg.) copied from AP report.

  • tony

    Timothy and Bee1000 are right on the money. Weight is the real problem. It also doesn’t help that for years government mandated improvements add weight at the expense of fuel economy.

    Either cars will get expensive to buy due to exotic light weight materials or have to sacrafice some non-mandated items (such as electric windows, ac, etc) to get thier weight down.

    It shocks me that cars built back in 1920’s got 30mpg. Sure, they were alot more spartan, but they did the basic job of transportation.

  • greg

    Please give me back a free market not a power hungry government telling me what I can drive with a hoax as its excuse. I drive a Mini because I choose to. However, if I choose a Challenger SRT that is my right as a free citizen.

    Those who believe this latest intrusion into personal liberty is so wonderful(watermelons = green on the outside/red on the inside)will eventually wake up when you are told what you are allowed to eat or how warm you can keep your home.

    Be careful what you wish for……

  • dr

    I will never understand those who enjoy living in the USA and then seems to disdain all that make this country preferable to others.

    Power and comfort are what the market demands here because americans (average americans mind you) have the economic means to demand them. the mass market rejects this minimalism, often applauded here, because in this country (until recently) outstanding individual achievement is encouraged and recognized as part of the basic fabric of our success. Europe is a nice place to visit, but I dont want their ways of life. they drive small cars because they have to, I want to drive a small car only if I CHOOSE too. I want the choice to live a nice home with a big lawn so I dont need a public park, and If I drive an hour each way I want to do so in a car I enjoy, whether its the feel of the road or a cushy recliner on wheels….or maybe a loaded 7 series.

    Im sorry but if you think that government mandates and excessive taxes meant to punish and manipulate the desired behavior from the populace is a good idea, Then I could not disagree with you more and do not belive that this is the spirit that has made this nation successful to begin with!

  • I concur with the dr! Having such a standard shoved down our throats is ridiculous. Taking away our right to choose whatever we want to drive, and pay for, is not the way to go about achieving their “goals”. They’re screwing with us and the Constitution-some more. It’s a smokescreen for the government not developing a proper energy policy-it’s just loading more crap on the taxpayers backs. I do not support their mandate. And I don’t want an electric car, MINI or not.

  • It amazes me that so many people think it’s their “right” to drive a big polluting gas guzzler. It’s a fact that the glut of large SUVs in this country has driven up the demand, and as such, the price of fuel. So Mr Tahoe’s desire to drive his 3-ton truck to work everyday is now costing ME money. Sorry – I think this legislation is on the mark and overdue.

    One person’s so-called “rights” end where it starts impacting other people.

    In fact, I don’t think this goes far enough. When can we start crushing H2’s?

  • greg

    Dr and Pete!! Where have you been?? Finally some sense on MF! AMEN!

  • Dan

    Wow. Nobody is telling anyone what to drive here. You will still buy whatever car you think is best for you. The competitive market will push automakers to build the types of cars that people want. If a company is making a lot of crappy econo-boxes, buy a different car! Automakers aren’t going to throw up their hands and suddenly decide to make only cars people don’t want.

    Bottom line is that we are destroying the environment. We can argue about the best way to go about it, but big changes have to be made. Basic human nature causes people not make smart decisions on this. It’s classic tragedy of the commons – No single raindrop believes it is responsible for the flood.

  • greg

    “We are destroying the enviroment!”

    Wanna buy a bridge?

  • bee1000

    Dan is correct. No one is mandating what you can or cannot buy or drive. All CAFE does is mandate that automakers bring more-efficient cars to market. The very market forces that have led to the over-sized, over-powered cars Americans buy today will ensure that any newer, more-efficient cars will continue to offer the luxury and performance Americans spend their money on.

    Also, the way CAFE is calculated, the automakers don’t have to sell very many copies of any efficient cars. Just producing them counts toward CAFE whether they sell 10,000 or 500,000 a year. There still will be plenty of room in the market for less efficient cars.

  • Two excellent Wall Street Journal articles on this lunacy: Car Crazy <A HREF=”>Obama at the Auto Buffet

  • Oops, I dropped a tag. Should be: Car Crazy and Obama at the Auto Buffet.

  • The CAFE standards are, in fact, sales-weighted. From the EPA’s own web site:

    “Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) is the sales weighted average fuel economy, expressed in miles per gallon (mpg), of a manufacturer’s fleet of passenger cars or light trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 8,500 lbs. or less, manufactured for sale in the United States, for any given model year.” CAFE Overview, FAQ

  • dr
    Dan is correct. No one is mandating what you can or cannot buy or drive.

    Yes they most certainly are! It is a point of view expressed by people constantly on this blog and by many other noisy people (such as paul) who are ready to crush hummers….There are in fact plenty of PEOPLE telling me what I should or should not drive and who suport legislation that by law would restrict my choice as a consumer in the marketplace….making for cars that I can and cannot drive. I may be able to buy a different car but I won’t have the freedom to buy ANY car….That my friends is a subtle yet very signifigant distinction between a free republic and a state contolled oligarchy!

  • dr

    Have you noticed….There is alot of this going around right now!

    There are SOME people telling the OTHER people: What they should and should not drive What they should and should not eat What they should or should not emit What they should and should not buy Where they should and should not live What choice I should or should not make…. ….and on and on…..

    And the should not’s become CAN NOT’S when government gets involved by legislating my choice

    Meanwhile…..The OTHER people just don’t care what choices the SOME people make, because thats thier choice, thier right! the other people just dont see what right they have to tell some people how to live thier lives, Even if they wanted to, becasue after all, who wants to live in a world where the other people get to tell the some people how to live thier lives.

  • I concur with the dr! Having such a standard shoved down our throats is ridiculous. Taking away our right to choose whatever we want to drive, and pay for, is not the way to go about achieving their “goals”. They’re screwing with us and the Constitution-some more. It’s a smokescreen for the government not developing a proper energy policy-it’s just loading more crap on the taxpayers backs. I do not support their mandate. And I don’t want an electric car, MINI or not.

    Wow, it never ceases to amaze me how much some people get into an uproar every time the government changes something. In case you haven’t realized it yet, no one’s telling you what to buy. The country hasn’t turned socialist, and if I remember last time I actually looked at it, the Constitution looked relatively intact.

    Besides, for those of us not willing to pay attention in school, it takes a Constitutional Amendment to change the Constitution and even then, that has to be ratified by a fixed number of states before it takes effect. The last time that happened was in 1992. The Supreme Court can interpret the Constitution, not change it. The President can’t change it either, only execute it, hence the term Executive Branch. If you’re that worried, I’m sure there are a few people still holed-up after the last election in their bomb shelters waiting for the world to end who are more than willing to make room for you.

    You’re free to state your opinion, but please educate yourself before commenting:

    Rant over.

  • JonPD

    Rather funny though that while the demands of goverments around the world are tightening emissions on vehicles Mini decided to make the least efficient Mini to date, a 4×4 R60. A small bit of stellar insight there into the future.

  • eto
    Mini decided to make the least efficient Mini to date, a 4×4 R60

    No… that would be the R53. The R60s fuel efficiency is still unknown. If it is diesel, it will have as good or better fuel efficiency than any petrol MINI.

  • JonPD

    True eto, however I can bet the farm that we will see a JCW 4×4 R60 that is likely to make my GP seem efficient lol.

  • greg

    When the government robs Peter to pay Paul they will always have a willing accomplice-in Paul. Unfortunately there are more Pauls than Peters and eventually Peter will run out of money for the government to rob. Get it Paul?

  • dr
    it takes a Constitutional Amendment to change the Constitution and even then, that has to be ratified by a fixed number of states before it takes effect. The last time that happened was in 1992. The Supreme Court can interpret the Constitution, not change it.

    The constitution was drawn as to define the full extent of power of the federal government. It defined limits, not a starting point! since you purport to have “paid attention” you may remember this part “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people” If its not in the constitution, its not the governments role. period! I certainly wish that any new power the feds wish to exert must be ratified by 3/4ths of the states, that was the founders intent….They belived in majority rule not minority rule! Sadly, the constitution is routinely ignored by legislators and beuraucrats (who are apointed not elected!)within federal agencies with the delegated power to legislate through regulation. These abuses of power, when challenged (and meanwhile enforced) may ultimately find thier way to the supreme court where activist judges, who are politicaly appointed, DO NOT judge on the SOLE basis of the constitution, rather than using the constitution as the sole authority, some justices believing that the constitution changes over time even without a single word on paper being altered, some even using european law to decide. HAVE changed the constitution!

    The size and authority of the government is the bold living proof that the constitution may not have been physicaly altered much…but change it has! Its a shame that more people don’t pay that much attention and its offensive when people are willing to ignore it just to force thier lifestyle of economy and minimalism upon others.

  • greg

    Does anyone really think the government making decisions for auto manufactuer as to what to build is a good idea?

    Pretty soon it will be “Doritos can only have 3 grams of fat vs 7 because we know whats good for you”. So your choice of what you can enjoy is taken from you. Think I’m nuts? How many cities ( i.e.NYC) have outlawed trans fat in restaraunts because the government decided it wasn’t good for you?

    And soon it will be “sorry Paul, we can’t perform this proceedure for your cancer because the government won’t pay us for it as they think it’s too expensive” Think I’m crazy? Why do Canadians/Euros come to the USA for treatment instead of using their countries universal health care?

    This will not stop at cars people. People who are jealous of Hummer owners and think this is swell are just the types that creeping socialism preys on. And they will using complete BS like “climate change”(notice no more global warming?) to manipulate the gulible.

  • Dr Obnxs

    Here’s a suggestion: leave the political BS for other forums, and stick to cars here.


  • greg

    Here’s another suggestion. Read all the prior posts on this thread that are political which started this. Not to mention the original story which is political in nature. Furthermore Doc, you have expressed your views numorous times on this forum. Sorry if someone with ones that differ from yours dares to express them. I don’t believe politics belong on MF, however, if someone offers up an opinion it is only fair that equal time is provided.

  • I’m with Matt, leave it on the forums (which, by the way greg, this is a blog, not a forum). Face it, fuel efficiency is here to stay, period. Cars will get increased gas mileage, not necessarily decreased size, performance, or luxury and no amount of arguing here is going to change some people’s contrary opinion to this.

    I find that those people who yell the loudest usually know the least. Their responses, sadly, follow the knee-jerk mentality of the uninformed and, facing a compelling argument, are wont to go into hysterical over-explanations and backpedalling rather than concede the point regardless of how valid it may be.

    One note for the good DR (not an argument mind you), the 10th amendment is one of the most loosely interpreted amendments in the constitution and since you quote it so vociferously, the “State” it refers to is the State-level Government. It’s not the Feds, but it’s still government. Again, there is some great reading out there on the roles of government as well as complete transcriptions of the Constitution and it’s amendments if you choose to look. Some of the interpretations can be a bit too liberal or conservative, but if you keep an open mind, you’ll find out that things aren’t quite as bad as you might think.

    Good luck with the reading – Moderately James

  • OH Steve

    There is a sign in the restroom of my favorite restaurant that says employees must wash their hands before returning to work. I suppose some of those employees feel that their decision to wash their hands has been taken away. I, for one, am glad it’s there.

  • KipperFillets

    Wow! Some really heated debate here.

    Here in the UK the government have put up duty on fuel, road tax on inefficient cars and introduced congestion charges, all in an effort to persuade us to drive smaller, cleaner cars.

    Actually I think a lot of it is really just a means to make money, under the guise of being keen on green.

    However, the biggest worry and outcry here is that it’s costing us more to run a car. I don’t think I’ve heard anyone protest about their rights to drive a V8 (unless it’s for a specific task). Just owning a big engined car costs more if I drive it 1 mile a day, than having a smaller car that I drive 10,000 miles a month because of the road tax.

    In all this, you don’t hear us complain about “rights to destroy the environment”. Generally I think we understand that SOMETHING needs to be done, and are willing to give up a bit of freedom to achieve this.

    Controversial bit here :- What made America great wasn’t anything more than vast resources that have made the county so wealthy ( Just like Britain gathering wealth of the old empire ). These resources have been squandered to such an extent that it’s now changing the way you’ve got to live.

    I’m not an eco-warrior, not anti-American and certainly not anti-car. What I am is pro-common sense. All areas of motor transport efficiency need addressing, and we’ve got to start someone.

    Heaven help us if we all start waving flags and take the “rights over reason” approach.

  • greg

    Wrong English guy! What made America great was we were free to “pursue happiness” without a monarch takinjg away the fruits of our labor and having the freedom to live as we choose and worship how we choose (no church of England). Not that I expect Euros to understand this as you are too busy standing in lines and accepting what you get.

  • KipperFillets

    @greg: Considering at the height of the British Empire, choice of worship was fairly limited in Britain, there was a monarchy and no “fake” illusion of freedom, we still managed to rule a good portion of the world. A tad more than the U.S. can claim at their height (still waiting for that day, I assume).

    What you fail to realise is that the American illusion of freedom doesn’t sit with their perception of the government’s control. Their are more restrictive laws in the U.S. than here in the U.K. On this site people bleat about not being allowed to get hold of a diesel MINI; we’ve got them all over the roads here. My choice of car is only limited by what I can afford to buy and run. Here’s they don’t restrict directly, but rather just tax the hell out of you instead.

    Grouping Europe as “Euros” just shows how limited your argument is. Since when has a German ever stood in line?

  • Shamus

    Please ignore @greg. In American, they’re called hillbillies, hicks, and generally, boobs (though you’d just call them prats). They have a very limited understanding of the world around them and usually just differ to baseless anger rather than proper discourse. He, and his like in no way represent America as a whole. Our apologies.

  • First and last warning – please do not make this personal and keep the attacks out of this.

  • greg

    Shamus. Fine example of liberal elitism playbook. Begin name calling ASAP! Since my views are consistant with our founding fathers my opinions have substance vs the whims of a “progressive”. My education, position, and comprehension of the world is reality, not a socialist utopia. My values created this country and made it the greatest in the world. Yours are slowly destroying it. Your personal insult is consistant with the tiny hearted blame/hate America crowd. Shut it down Gabe.

  • Gaston

    I’ll take the freedom argument further: I want to be free of paying for other’s choices. You want to drive a gas guzzler, fine, just don’t ask me to pay for your choice. For example, if you burn more gas, you are contributing more pollution to the air I breathe. Similarly, my medical bills will be larger than yours if you hit my MINI with your HUMMER.

    What we need is fair pricing. Currently, gas and vehicle prices do not reflect their true impact in terms of road use, pollution, national security, and danger to others.

  • Shep

    Our “rights”, as residents of one of the richest countries in the world, do not extend to actions that adversely affect the entire world and our descendants. Global climate change and pollution are affected by everyone’s driving, as well as many other personal and collective actions.

    “Rights” include responsibilities to others. Driving a high-mileage car is one of the most effective things an individual can do to combat major global problems. It’s time to understand these issues are real and are not going away, to pull one’s head up out of the sand and to do one’s share.

  • greg

    It’s a hoax. Anyone who belives this tripe is a fool.The vast majority of the scientific community states that any climate change is caused by the sun and volcanic activity and is normal and natural. The earth has cooled for several years now and the polar ice thickness has doubled. This is all about money and political power and those who choose to subscribe to this scam is a pawn.Hope you geniuses enjoy shelling out some serious cap and trade $$$

  • KipperFillets

    Thanks guys. It’s nice to see that the U.S. (and specifically this site) does have morally responsible people. Even to the extend you’d stick up for a Brit against someone in your own country.

    I’ve followed this site for a number of years (I’d never have decided on my R53 without your help), and can say that I’ve found it to be a generally honest and respectable place. This thread being a case in point.

    Greg has every right to voice his opinions, although I suppose it’s up to Gabe to decide if he (or any of us) can do that here.

    It does go to show that under the surface, an argument is usually about something else other than the point in question! I do agree with Greg about most things being about money and political power though. The rest is just ego and concience.

  • I couldn’t agree with Dr. Obnxs more either. Perhaps a more politically acceptable way to do the gas tax would be to issue a net zero gas tax.