GM's new 5.3L V8 EcoTec engine, left, boosts fuel efficiency by using cylinder deactivation to act as a four-cylinder engine at light loads. Ford's 3.5L EcoBoost engine, right, boosts performance by using twin-turbocharger technology to create a more dense mix of air and fuel in each cylinder. (Source: GMC, left; Ford Motor Co., right)
How about heavy-duty electric vehicles? With that be a possibility any time soon. I remember reading about a Chevy concept truck that was a hybrid. It was heavy duty, got great gas mileage, and could have tool plugged into it. I would like to see this be the norm on every truck.
Cabe, that is a good idea. A good solution for trucks might be something like a diesel electric locomotive (this is what all diesel locomotives are now, so we generally don't put in the electric). Diesel locomotives have been evolving to hybrids with batteries. This sllows them to recover energy in breaking, for example, and to respond more quickly to speed and load changes. The engine (ICE or microturbine) still provides the main source of electricity. They tend to be more expensive to build, but easier and cheaper to maintain.
Charles, I think automobile/mechanical engineers are the best peoples to judge about these changes. From user point of view, better power and high mileage are the concern points and any changes for attaining these two goals may get widely accepted..
I would add longevity. If those turbos start going out at 100K then Ford will have a reputation problem. GM must also prove that cylinder deactivation can really save fuel. I am sure there is some savings, but how much? Then the question is how does cylinder deactivation affect the V8's longevity?
If these issues come up and it affects the truck user, the manufacturer will be pounded for under-developed technology and reputation will be at stake.
Call me a "DOUBTING THOMAS", and I qualify that to state that battery technology is NOWHERE in my expertise, BUT I believe that there would be many obstacles to mounting a large set of batteries into a truck chassis. One of these would be that since many trucks are weight-limited, there would be a liability to its ability to carry cargo, since GVW would be affected negatively. Furthermore, UNLESS there is a paradigm shift in battery chemistry, I don't see this energy storage device as being viable for ANY vehicle, outside the limited use casual vehicles presently on the market.
It made the news reports in the past week or so that even the principal engineer responsible for the TOYOTA PRIUS admitted that the ICE will be the primary power source of vehicles for decades to come. However, I DO believe that the chemical, mechanical, electrical engineers will find a satisfactory solution to increasing the overall efficiency of the modern transportation vehicle such that this discussion may become a moot point.
Finally, I also believe that the governments SHOULD NOT be so adamant in their prescriptions for the future. There is NO doubt among rational-thinking people that when governments overbear, the results ARE almost always disasterous.
The light truck is as American as burgers and fries. Competition from overseas and new emissions requirements are putting a strain on the domestic manufacturers. It's nice to see our favorite trucks are in good hands.
GM has finally rolled out DI on the small block. I think they had variable valve timing and displacement on demand technologies on the previous generation with the exception of the 4.8L. GM's small block is very light and compact, produces exceptional power from idle to redline and has proven it can go the distance. If the updated small block can maintain that and produce the desired efficiency and emissions, then GM will be well equipped to satisfy customers who like V8s. You gotta love the sound of a well tuned V8.
US manufacturers have been shy about offering turbocharged gasoline engines for some time. There have been plenty of successes, but drivability concerns, fuel efficiency and insurance costs have limited the market. Modern turbochargers, engine management systems and traction control have resolved nearly all of the drivability concerns and the availability of DI for gasoline engines (DI has been used on diesel engines for decades) has changed the image of turbocharged gasoline engines from gas hogs to efficient and reliable compact powerhouses. The success of Ford's Echo Boost engines proves that the market is there. Time will tell if these modern small displacement turbo powerhouses can go the distance.
In the end both approaches are great solutions to the same problem. If variety adds spice to life, then the American light truck will continue to satisfy the palettes of truck buyers for years to come.
I have always been a Ford guy (and GM hater) but have concerns about Ford's approach. For anyone who remembers the early days of production turbo vehicles, reliability was a huge issue that should not be overlooked.
Granted, turbos have come a long way in terms of reliability (i.e. modern turbo diesels on 1 ton trucks), but they are still a bit costly. When you consider that a lot of these trucks will be used for work and play off road, the more conventional (and reliable) 'multi-displacement' technology seems better. The dust, vibration, and shock of off road driving are very hard on vehicle components. With the twin turbo Ford V-6 you will have twice the number of expensive turbo units exposed to it.
The question of 'turbo lag' is whole other conversation; but can these new turbos overcome the bad taste gasoline turbo powertrains left consumers with last time around?
Disclaimers -My 2007 Dodge Ram 1500 has a multi-displacement 5.7L V-8 that has been very reliable and gets me around 15 mph highway (10 mph towing a 3 horse trailer). My uncle has one of the new Ford turbo F150s and is very pleased with the mileage (over 20 mph highway) and power, but he doesn't tow and rarely goes off road.
GM first offered cylinder deactivation in 1981 on the Cadillac L62 V8. They have had plenty of time to develop that system, I think. I believe most of the problems GM experienced in the past were in the electronics and not the mechanical parts of the engine. Time will tell whether customers like the system or not and I believe that may be the main issue.
I would also like to see towing and hauling performance over the long run. Smaller engines tend to wear out faster when put under the stress of towing.
Anecdotally - I had a Ford 4.6L F150 that showed a loss of power much more quickly than its predecessors that had 302 c.i. engines. However, when they were new, the 4.6L and 302 c.i. trucks were very comparable power-wise.
George Leopold's talk at last week's Design & Manufacturing Minneapolis helped restore astronaut and engineer Gus Grissom's role in the beginnings of NASA, and outlined how Grissom played a pivotal role in winning the Space Race.
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