Is three the magic number of cylinders for Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler and its efforts to build smaller powertrains for its compact hybrids? Potentially, yes, the German automaker could see the need for three-cylinder mills, Automotive News reports. The company doesn't have any plans for them as of yet, though.

Daimler executive Bernhard Heil talked with Automotive News about the challenges of using four-cylinder engines in a front-wheel-drive setup and said that three-cylinder engines could work in transverse-mounted powertrains for hybrid cars. For now, though, the company doesn't actually have any plans to go in that direction, Mercedes-Benz spokesman Christoph Horn said in an e-mail to AutoblogGreen. Horn wrote that Heil "actually said that if ever MB would use a three-cylinder engine than [it would be] in a configuration where space is restricted, such as when using a hybrid power train in a compact car."

Of course, the only compact "hybrid" that Mercedes-Benz has is the 2015 C-Class, but that refers to the "hybrid" body is made of 48-percent aluminum, up from the current nine percent, as well as steel. It has nothing to do with the powertrain. Beyond that, there's always the Mercedes-Benz S500 Plug-in Hybrid that the company unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show last fall, but that model, which will debut in Europe later this year and arrive stateside next year, has a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 and an 80-kilowatt electric motor that propels the plug-in from 0 to 62 miles per hour in 5.5 seconds. Not exactly three-cylinder territory, that.

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