THE SUBJECT of Dieter Bergmann's doctoral thesis at Aachen University was powertrains for railways. Since then he has changed from trains to cars, but his career has stuck with powertrains.
Bergmannn joined BMW in 1985 to work on electronic engine management systems.
He moved to the company from the Munich-based military aircraft company MBB, where he had spent two years after graduating. Since then he has held several different positions within the BMW engine department.
His first job involved testing, but he was soon given responsibility for overseeing the design of the six-cylinder engine series. Bergmann has since worked on a variety of engine projects, and for the past year has been in charge of driveline development.
'I find my work in engine development very challenging,' he says. 'We are all the time looking for more power, with less fuel consumption, less emissions and better noise, vibration and harshness behavior.'
Does international legislation on emissions threaten to become a big restraint on his work?
'Some laws on emissions go too far,' he says. 'It makes no sense to have very severe requirements for new cars and to ignore what is happening with old cars. Some countries have a very old car population and this is a problem. What is needed is a more realistic balance.'
Automakers are under a lot of pressure to develop direct-injection gasoline engines. 'This technology is not yet mature,' he says, 'because there are still problems with emissions, but everyone is working on GDI.
'The very fast development of new engine technology may lead to the wider introduction of such engines sooner rather than later.'
But in the future, he says, 'progress on engine development will take place in the cylinder head and not in the crankcase, as it would be possible to realize more mechanical variabilities. For example, it might be possible to have total variability via electrically driven valves. But this is still far away.'
Bergmann believes consumers may resist electrically powered and hybrid cars.
'I think most companies will end up producing an electric car - not least because in California a percentage of cars must be zero emissions by the year 2002,' he says. 'But such cars can be expensive to run and with electric cars there is the whole infrastructure problem to overcome.
'Consumers want convenience and they may not be happy with the cost and what is involved in keeping this type of vehicle on the road.'
To relax, Bergmann prefers to use the power of the wind rather than an engine.
He likes to sail and his idea of an ideal break from work is to charter a yacht and sail around the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea.
He also enjoys skiing in the Alps.
The other places Bergmann likes to visit - purely for fun - have more to do with auto engines: he likes to attend Formula One races.