BMW plans to include a three-cylinder powerplant for the cars sold in the United States.

“Hybrids with a three-cylinder engine are coming rapidly, ” said Ian Robertson, BMW AG board member for sales and marketing, at the Paris auto show.

According to a BMW source the three-cylinder engine will be used for the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid and the Mini brand sold in the US. For Europe, the automaker plans to use the three-cylinder engine for cars based on its new front-wheel-drive UKL platform. At the Paris Auto Show, BMW unveiled a plug-in hybrid powertrain in the Concept Active Tourer, powered by a 1.5-liter three-cylinder gasoline engine and an electric motor.

“It behaves like a six-cylinder, it is half of a six-cylinder engine and has the noise of a six cylinder,” said Robertson. “The output from a relatively small engine is not what you would have imagined.”

As automakers have to deal with tougher fuel economy rules, they begin to focus more on small gasoline engines for the North American market. Ford has already announced it will introduce to the US the three-cylinder, 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine, but didn’t mention what models will get the engine.


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