One of the few times we see BMW in critics' crosshairs is when EPA numbers come out for new model year vehicles. While certainly not Hummer-thirsty, BMWs aren't exactly known for their fuel efficiency, and the automaker had come under fire for electing to pay penalties rather than improve its fuel economy.

But that attitude may be changing-- BMW is using higher technology on smaller engines to get big results. For the first time, the 2007 MINI Cooper will see BMW's Valvetronic system, which controls intake valve timing to improve performance and fuel efficiency. Its S performance model will get a turbocharger rather than the supercharger it has right now, and both models will receive direct fuel injection for a total of 10 percent savings in fuel economy. BMW hybrids are also in the works, brake regeneration will make it into production soon, and even the feature that hybrids are known for -- shutting down engines while stopped and starting it again when the driver's foot lifts from the brake -- will be incorporated into gas and diesel vehicles.

[Source: Automotive News via AutoWeek]

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