Future General Motors Car to Come with a BMW Engine?

By Brendan Moore

04.04.2008

Friedrich Eichiner, BMW’s board member for corporate and brand development, allowed to a reporter a couple of days ago that BMW was considering selling engines and transmissions to other companies, namely GM, Fiat and Daimler. This was not news in itself as BMW said earlier in the year that selling engines and transmissions to competitors was part of the strategic plan and an important part of the future revenue plans.

But BMW had never before specified which auto companies they were having discussions with about buying those BMW components.

It is believed that Daimler and Fiat are interested only in the small-displacement engines BMW has, but what does GM have in mind?

The small-displacment FWD gas and diesel engines that power the MINI? Yeah, probably – that’s a high-percentage bet. The diesel MINI (not sold here in the States) puts up some gaudy fuel economy numbers.

The V8 engines? Nah, probably not. What’s the point? GM has got all the superb V8s they need and then some.

The large-displacement diesels? Now, there’s a thought. There might be some possibilities there.

But most intriguing of all is the possibility that GM might buy the wonderful, powerful, creamy-smooth BMW inline six-cylinder and put it into something. Unlikely, you say?

Well, maybe, and then again, maybe not. GM bought V6 engines from Honda and offered them in the previous-generation Saturn crossover. It was a very nice powertrain.

And although it’s true that the inline six presents some engineering challenges to the current GM car platforms that take V6 or V8 engines only, the ones that currently can accommodate both a V6 and an inline four (i.e. Chevrolet Malibu) might be a much easier platform in terms of accepting the BMW six.

In fact, let’s think about that Malibu for a minute with one variation of BMW’s inline-six, the 300 HP BMW six-cylinder 3.0 liter engine (and transmission) in it. I am in no way denigrating the V6 offered in the Malibu now as it is a very good engine. But, it is not a BMW six. The Malibu is already a fine car, the BMW powertrain would just be the icing on the cake. Sure, it would be expensive, but it could be sold as the performance model that was limited in production, sort of a halo model in the Malibu model range.

Or, how about the new Pontiac Solstice coupe with the same engine and transmission? Talk about a performance model.

The speculation could go on and on since GM has a lot of vehicles in its lineup. And, frankly, GM will probably be buying the smaller-displacement engines if a deal is struck, so hoping for the six-cylinder engine might be fantasy. But, wouldn’t it be nice to buy a General Motors Car that looks great, and, oh, by the way, also has a performance-engineered BMW 3.0 liter engine and transmission?

We can only keep our fingers crossed. BMW says they will make a decision on what they will sell, and to whom, by the end of 2008.

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Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at http://www.cedarpointconsulting.com.

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9 Comments

  1. An idea who could be a bit far fetched actually but who knows if in a couple of years, GM and BMW might develop together in a joint-venture, a future family engine of V8/V10/V12 a bit similar to the V6 PRV then Renault, Peugeot and Volvo did together in the 1970s and 1980s and currently to what Ford and Peugeot do with the Duratorq engines

    Another question to ponder, Mercedes switched from I6 (inline-6) to V6 in the mid-to-late 1990s, how long then BMW could resist to the temptation to do their own V6?

    It could be interesting to imagine the other way around as well, BMW could buy the rights of produce under licence and/or tooling to GM to do for example, the V6 High-Feature engine aka Alloytec and finds a way to refine them to a new zenith. There was a sort of precedent with the Buick 215 aka the Rover V8 done in aluminium, GM dropped the project and the board of Rover buyed the rights of tooling. And Alfa-Romeo currently use the 3.2L version of this engine while Suzuki produce the 3.6L V6 under licence.

    Some persons swapped older BMW with the small-block Chevy. I spotted a video of a M3 with a small-block on Youtube and a French article on the subject.

    Just imagine the folks of BMW finding a way to give a new life on the small-block Chevy/LS engine family 😉

  2. BMW and GM make great engines but in different areas. I’m with Stephane – let’s combine the two engine families and get crazy.

  3. I would love to see that high output Mini engine available in the Aveo, the Cobalt, the HHR. It gets good gas mileage, too.

  4. You say that GM has all the V8 engines they need, but they just abandoned the new V8 project they had going, so maybe that’s not the case. Maybe GM would be a player for BMW’s V8, although that might be a bit embarassing for them.

  5. giemaker – from your lips to God’s ears. That would be a dream come true.

  6. The Mini diesel engine is not a BMW engine – it’s the 1.6 from the Peugeot/Ford joint venture. The same thing you find in Volvos, Fords, Peugeots, Citroens…

    GM gets competitive diesels from their FIAT partnership.

  7. Don’t forget the 2001 Opel Omega with the BMW 2.5L inline-six turbodiesel. It got great reviews. 525d drivetrain in a more spacious, less sporty package.

  8. Regardless of where BMW gets the diesel engine for the MINI, GM could still have a shot at it if they did a deal with BMW. Not that it matters, IMO, because I think GM would want the excellent gas engine in the MINI.

  9. What for? GM’s European Ecotec range comes in 1.6 versions too, both NA and turbo with different boost levels. They don’t need the mini engine – why buy something when you have something very simila in-house?
    I also don’t believe they would get a good deal on it – the mini engine is the result of the BMW/PSA collaboration, and PSA’s brands compete directly with GM brands in Europe.

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