Page Overview: The diesel engine




More than 100 years ago, Rudolf Diesel invented the auto-ignition combustion engine. Thanks to continuous technical refinement, the diesel engine is one of the main power units used in Europe today.

In the utility vehicle sector, in fact, it has been virtually the only form of propulsion for decades. At the same time, the importance of the diesel engine in the passenger car segment has also grown, as performance characteristics have continued to improve.

The history of the BMW diesel engine began in 1979 with the foundation of the BMW engine plant in Steyr, where the first diesel engines rolled off the assembly line in 1983. These units were characterised by their high level of performance, dynamic power delivery and agility, exceptional smoothness, exemplary emissions behaviour and fuel economy.

Historic victory.

At the 24-Hours Nürburgring in June 1998, the BMW diesel engine in a BMW 320d celebrated a historic victory. At the end of the 24 hours, Hans Joachim Stuck drove the BMW 3 Series diesel Super Touring car over the finish line well ahead of the others. This was the first time a diesel engine had won such a marathon.

Current significance.

Six out of ten cars on Austrian roads are diesels – which adds up to a total of more than 2.7 million registered diesel passenger cars.

Alternative drive technologies cannot yet measure up to conventional drive technologies in terms of purchase price, availability of infrastructure and time spent renewing range, which means the tremendous economic significance of the diesel drive train will remain unchallenged for quite some time.

Diesel accounts for 17.2 billion euros in gross value added in Austria. This represents a contribution of six percent to gross domestic product. A total of 230,000 jobs across the country, i.e. one in 19, are attributable to diesel.

Clean diesel.

Aside from the enormous economic importance, clean diesel’s contribution towards climate goals is often underestimated. Currently, 94 percent of vehicles sold worldwide are already subject to CO2 emissions regulations. These regulations will become even stricter over the coming years, especially in the European Union. Modern diesel vehicles play an important part in CO2 reduction, because they use up to 25 percent less fuel than comparable petrol engines and emit up to 15 percent less CO2.