Although you might think a car like the Mini would be perfectly suited to getting incredible fuel economy from a hybrid system—especially one that combined an already efficient diesel engine with electric assist—according to Mini, you’d be wrong.
But Wolfgang Kuttler, in charge of Mini diesel engine development, recently told Autocar that the Peugeot system was “very expensive and heavy,” adding “It only brings fuel savings in town, not on the faster, more open roads commonly used in Europe. We’ll never use a system like it at Mini for that reason.”
Instead of trying to cram the heavy and expensive diesel hybrid system into a Mini for questionable gains, Mini has instead decided to redouble their efforts on making the diesel engine more efficient. In a tiny and lightweight car like the Mini, squeezing the diesel to deliver as much efficiency as possible can lead to huge gains. “I believe that we are currently getting about 50 per cent of the efficiency available in diesel engines,” Kuttler told Autocar. “We intend to concentrate on improving ancillary drive, lowering internal friction, increasing injection pressure and optimising turbo response, among other aspects. Variable valve timing is a possibility but it’s low down on the priority list.”
Although it certainly would be cool to have access to a diesel hybrid Mini, if it makes more sense to try and squeeze 50-60 mpg out of a diesel engine and maintain the performance that Mini is known for at a much cheaper cost to consumers, I’m all for it.