BMW to offer diesel cars in U.S. market in 2008

By From Reuters| Mar 06 2007
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BMW AG will begin selling diesel-powered cars in the United States next year, its CEO said today.

"Next year we are also going to offer our diesel vehicles in the U.S. -- another step in protecting the environment," CEO Norbert Reithofer said in a speech prior to the Geneva Auto Show.

He said about 40 percent of all BMWs sold last year, almost half a million vehicles, were equipped with diesel engines, which are more fuel-efficient than petrol-fueled cars.

Diesel cars account for a minimal part of the U.S. market but are popular in Europe due to their higher fuel efficiency.

Reithofer said BMW's cooperation with DaimlerChrysler AG to produce so-called mild hybrids for the premium car segment would likely lead to production in two years' time. "We will achieve production maturity of these (hybrid) components in 2009."

He said hybrid hype was subsiding a little. "It has not reflected reality anyway."

Referring to Toyota Motor Corp., Reithofer said less than 4 percent of the 9 million vehicles sold by the Japanese carmaker last year were equipped with a hybrid powertrain, combining a combustion engine with an electric motor.

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