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)
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.
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.
I never thought car powertrain technology could be so interesting, being someone who is not savvy about cars in the slightest, but your slideshow was enlightening, Charles. It's nice to see what's being done to create more fuel efficiency. It is sorely needed!
That would be quite a feat! As with so many other technologies, I am surprised it too so long for this to evolve, as even when I was young oh so many years ago, people were talking about electric cars...but they didn't really start manufacturing them until 20 years later. Lack of interest and investment then, of course. Now it's practically necessary to go in this direction.
I live in Europe and have a diesel-engine vehicle, and I don't know for sure if this is true but it makes sense, as it's less expensive than gasoline here. Overall, most people here prefer to have a diesel engine over a gasoline-powered one.
Charles, all the parts are not even 20% more costly, other than the significantly lower production volume problem which transfer higher NRE costs to each unit, for design, prototyping, tooling, testings, certification, ... etc. Certainly the materials are not 2X in cost, or they would be 2x beefier. It's really hard to see that looking at a VW 1.9L TDI diesel from 10 years ago. Other than slightly larger bearings, it's pretty much scaled to a 1.9L gas engine. With significantly higher fuel economy.
Or for that matter a GM 6.5L diesel from 10 years ago, compared to the 350 and 454 derivative designs that it competes with, where it's towing performance is between the two, and significantly better fuel economy than either.
Charles, my concern over 54.5 fleet MPG remains ... and your selection of examples is pretty clear. the only car close to that, is the sub compact at 40mpg. We still seem headed to the previous CAFE results where huge numbers of cars will be produced that lack critical crumple zones to ride down crashes with stationary objects that kill and severely injure the driver and passengers. This will raise cost of insurance in the long run, increasing cost of ownership.
All of these engines have significantly higher complexity, which frequently translates to significantly higher initial purchase costs, as well as increased lifetime maintenence costs, raising cost of ownership significantly.
Minimum wage is unlikely to increase as fast, so the poor people will see a higher portion of their income moved to transportation, both cost of ownership and fuel cost, while accident rates increase.
Overall, this will drive inflation in our economy to meet a politically motivated goal of removing automobiles from our society.
The end may not yet be near, but recent statements by two of the world’s biggest automakers point to the fact that the industry has begun to plan for a dramatic decline in vehicles that are powered solely by internal combustion engines.
At the recent Autodesk Accelerate event in Boston, the director of product development for a niche hypercar firm replied "no, no, no" to three answers he got for what makes a car go faster. What was the right response?
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