As we told you last September, BMW has been kicking around the idea of a fourth brand (in addition to MINI, Rolls Royce, and BMW) for a while. This week it emerges that this new addition to the Bimmer family lineup may be a dedicated "green" line of vehicles focused on high fuel economy and lower emissions. If so, the strategy would certainly make sense as it will enable BMW to meet tough environmental requirements without sacrificing too much of its performance-related DNA. BMW is one of a number of premium European brands likely to suffer most at the hands of recent U.S.--and proposed European--legislation to toughen emissions standards and fuel economy.
Last month's passage of legislation requiring increased fleet-wide fuel economy standards to an average of 35mpg by 2020 in the US was followed by confirmation from the European Commission that it had adopted a legislation proposal for emissions and fuel efficiency that requires all new cars to achieve a fleet average of 130 grams of CO2 per kilometer (as a point of comparison, the BMW 335i, by no means the biggest car in BMW's lineup, has a carbon output of 173 to 235 g/km and an average fuel economy of 20 mpg). According to the EC proposal, manufacturers can team up with other companies to meet the emissions target if they are unable to do so on their own, but it looks like BMW is considering building itself an in-house eco-brand to achieve this. The news is the latest in a series of examples we've seen of performance- and luxury European brands scrambling for a green solution, from Porsche's Cayenne and Panamera hybrids to Ferrari's Bio Fuel F430 and Mercedes' S300 Bluetec Hybrid.