Never in the history of the automobile have engineers worked so hard to use so little fuel. With a 54.5mpg corporate average fuel economy mandate looming in the next 12 years, all have begun development of new technologies that will help cut gasoline consumption. Many new engines now employ direct injection fuel delivery, cylinder deactivation, and variable cam timing. Some use turbochargers to provide a boost only when it's needed, thereby minimizing engine displacement. Many companies are also building transmissions with eight or more speeds as a means of wasting as little energy as possible.
Here, we offer a collection of some of the engine and transmission technologies shown at the recent 2013 North American International Auto Show. From tiny three-cylinder engines to massive V-8s, it demonstrates that fuel efficiency is the biggest motivator for automakers going forward.
Click on the image below to start the slideshow.
GM's 6.2L V-8 delivers 450 HP and 450 lb-ft of torque to the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette. It employs a direct injection fuel system, active fuel management, and variable valve timing. GM engineers used computational fluid dynamics to optimize the combustion system and ensure a more complete burn. (Source: Chevrolet)
One other thing that has held back diesel in this country, as opposed to European countries, is the difference in the way fuel is taxed. As I understand it, European countries has "subsidized" diesel fuel (in other words, it isn't taxed as heavily as gasoline), or so I'm told.
Al, I have to admit that I'm not sure if the 2X figure is right. That figure was based on the comment of one automotive engineer (who, by the way, does have a Ph.D. with a specialty in engine design). That said, the cost for diesel engines is much higher than for gasoline engines. One big reason is higher operating pressures. All parts are more costly -- blocks, heads, pistons, crankshafts, connecting rods and more, I'm told.
If consumers don't buy it, manufacturers won't make it. The Corvette is one of the best selling and best performing 2-seater sports cars in the world. That's how they get away with it.
The 1956 Corvette may have weighed less than the new Corvette, but it can't compete in any area of performance, including fuel economy and smog (I can smell the hydrocarbons from all older cars)...acceleration, braking, handling and safety are absolutely no contest. I'm not sure what the adjusted 1956 price of $3,120 would be today, but that was a lot of money back then. Try to buy a new-condition 1956 Corvette today for only a few thousand dollars. As for any car styling, pure subjective, some prefer older, many prefer newer.
My point is that the new Corvette competes very well in it's market. It is lightweight and low cost for what it is, and a specialty vehicle as you stated. Look at other car classes if you want an ultra-lightweight economy car. The new Fiat 500 weighs just 2,363 with manual transmission. The super-small 70 Hp Smart car weighs just 1,808 pounds, you can get one for around $12,000.
My weekend recreational old-car is a factory stock 1998 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 with 305 Hp (340 ft-lbs torque) 5.7 litre aluminum LT V8 with six-speed manual transmission, about 3,450 pounds. It gets 15 mpg city with my aggressive driving, 26 mpg freeway (California) doing 80 miles per hour. It does zero to 60 mph in 5 seconds flat, the factory top speed is 165 miles per hour.
No disrespect is intended, I'm just making my point.
Complxexity. A diesel engine is a beautiful thing, but they have to add injectors and and an injector pump or Electronic injectors. All require extreme precision, and add another level of complexity. As the injectors inject fuel into the cylinders they have to be able to deal with all the forces of combustion. Gasoline fuel injection is (with the exception of some experimental direct injection systems) done into the low pressure manifold so the only pressure they see is the 30 to 60 PSI delivery pressure of the fuel.
Service on a diesel can be a shocker. almost the same price for the injector pump and injectors as for the rest of the engine.
The 1956 corvette weighed 3020 lbs, seems that the new model is a step backward. It only cost $3120 also, another step backward. It was a much prettier car also, the new one looks like a recycled Dodge Viper. So for an extra $56,000 what do you get? it doesn't look a lot better to me. The '56 will sell for a lot more also, and get you more girls...
My point is that the auto industry has inched forward for 55 years and all they give you an extra 200 lbs of car with an extra 170 hp, and not much better mileage. How do they get away with it?
No doubt the auto manufactures are clinging onto the ICE technology like a monkey clings onto a cookie in a cookie jar (delaying the inevitable notion that letting go is a better idea). The future is coming, and our automotive companies are still thinking in the past, though I am impressed that dispite all the complaining that the mileage goal could never be met (I was never fooled), there is a lot of ideas that still can be used with ICEs to increase mileage.
The new Corvette is too heavy? What other car company offers a sports car with 450 horsepower that only weighs 3,200 pounds (50-50 weight distribution), and for only $59,000? The new 'Vette is rated 16 mpg city/26 mpg highway. The new Corvette has an aluminum frame (not steel uni-body) and carbon-fiber bonded to aluminum for the underbody panels to reduce weight. Most midsize cars weight from 3,500 to 4,000 or more pounds.
The Ferrari F430 weighs just 3,195 pounds with 483 horsepower, will set you back about $248,903, but only gets 12 miles per gallon. The Ferrari Enzo weighs 3,230 pounds, 650 Hp, 13 mpg, just $652,830 cost. Ford GT weighs 3,390 pounds, 500 Hp, 15 mpg, $150,525. Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera weighs 3,320 pounds, 522 Hp, 11 mpg, only $255,745. The little entry-model BMW 135i couple weighs 3,340 pounds, 300 Hp, 20 mpg, $43,670 (all other BMW's weigh more). For comparison sake, the Toyota Prius hybrid weighs about 3,050 pounds. My 2012 Honda Civic EX-L weighs about 2,800 pounds, and a sports car it is not.
Yeah, the 60's were when the Union Pacific experimented with their "Big Blow" locomotives. There are some interesting stories about the exhaust from one melting a road on an overpass above the tracks when the locomotive stopped underneath....
There was also the "turbotrain" which was a turbine powered (mechanical drive I believe) passenger train. A few still exist, but are for sale:
Europe used and uses diesel hydraulics, but when tried here in the 1970's, they didn't work too well.
In the 1980's, GE built a "coal slurry" powered diesel electric locomotive, but apparently there was too much wear on engine internals from the fuel.
GE is supposedly working on a diesel electric locomotive with on-board battery storage, but we all know about the limitations of batteries.
One of the big things these days, is for smaller switching locomotives to be "genset" equipped. Basically, instead of having one large diesel engine, they have three smaller diesel engines, which can come on-line as more power is needed.
Norfolk Southern has an experimental, completely battery powered locomotive (number 999), but it has a very limited range, and uses traditional lead acid batteries.
The Pennsylvania railroad had electrified some of their Eastern railroad and used to operate electric freight locomotives, but after Conrail came around to rescue the North-East's railroads, they phased out much of the electrical territories and stopped all electric powered freight trains.
A nuclear powered locomotive would be pretty cool....
The biggest advantage to having electric motor(s) in the drivetrain is the ability to capture wasted energy during decelleration & braking that would otherwise be shed as waste heat. I wish the industry would think less about batteries for long-term energy storage in electric hybrid vehicles and develop the use of super-capacators instead for acceleration-assist in hybrids. That way you would get much of the fuel economy gains of battery hybrids without the fuel economy negative of the battery weight.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.