Engine Downsizing Gains Ground

Engine Downsizing Gains Ground

Porsche,Cayman,Boxster,engine,fuel economy,mpg

Even Porsche Downsizes Its Engines

Smaller Is Better For Automakers  And Consumers Shouldn’t Notice Any Difference.

The global drive to reduce greenhouse gases and increase vehicle fuel efficiency is pushing automakers to reduce the size of their engines – while trying to keep all of attributes consumers expect from their cars. Engineers have pushed the limits of technology to produce engines that are more efficient, meet increasingly stringent pollution standard and yet make better horsepower and torque than previous generations.

Recently, three auto companies announced new engine families that epitomize this new trend:

  • General Motors’ new engine family
  • Porsche’s new four-cylinder engines
  • VW’s new diesel engine

Let’s look at each of these to see how they plan to ease consumers into this new generation of engines.

General Motors’ New Fours

After successfully going through bankruptcy, GM is now starting to put money back into development of its hardware, with a focus on engines that can serve its models around the world. That world-emphasis means fuel efficiency is at the forefront.

The new family of small engines GM just announced will eventually include 11 powerplants that will range from a 1-liter turbo three-cylinder up to a 1.5-liter turbo four. All will have aluminum blocks and heads, which

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GM Gets Small With Its Engines

should result in lighter weight to enhance any efficiency gains from the engines themselves. In addition, they have double overhead cams with four valves per cylinder, variable valve timing, water-cooled exhaust manifolds, variable oil pumps to save energy and piston cooling jets.

Some engines may also feature direction fuel injection and turbocharging, depending on the market.

GM said variants of the modular engines would be able to be produced on the same assembly line in five plants around the world. Eventual volume could reach 2.5 million units, GM added. The first engine, the Ecotec 1-liter turbo three-cylinder, will be sold in Europe, but no U.S. appearance for it has been announced, but several of the engines are likely to show up in GM’s small cars and applications such as the Chevy Volt and Cadillac ELR range-extended electric cars, which currently use a 1.4-liter non-turbo engine as a generator.

The engines are designed to put GM a leg up on Ford’s EcoBoost engines with quieter operation and as good or better efficiency and power.

Porsche Goes Back To Four

Porsche has more of a challenge. This subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group doesn’t make very many cars and specializes in sports cars (even though its current best-seller is an SUV) and has an image that is key to its sales success.

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Porsche Bets On a Powerful Four

Even though the company’s heritage is in small displacement engines, in the more recent past that image and sales were tarnished with some four-cylinder models concocted in partnership with VW. the 1969-76 914 was ridiculed as a VW-Porsche and was finally dropped when Porsche returned to a focus on its higher-end sports cars.

Like the engine offered in the 914 – and Porsche’s larger six-cylinder engines – the new engines will be horizontally-opposed or “flat fours” and will be produced on the same assembly lines. Compared to the offerings of the 70s they will bring considerably more technology and may produce almost 400 horsepower in some versions. The current 2.7/3.4-liter six-cylinder engines in the Boxster and Cayman production from 265 to 340 horsepower.

They should aid the Boxster and Cayman models in which they’ll be available by reducing weight and thus boosting handling and braking.

“We will continue with the downsizing strategy and develop a new four-cylinder boxer engine, which will see service in the next-generation Boxster and Cayman,” said Porsche CEO Matthias Muller, in an interview with Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport magazine. “We will not separate ourselves from efforts to reduce CO2,” he added.

Of course reduced CO2 translates into better fuel economy which, while not a major focus of Porsche buyers, is a concern for the corporation that produces them.

Diesel Also Moves Forward

Volkswagen’s build a good reputation with its small, turbocharged direct-injected gasoline and diesel engines, but its engineers are not resting on their laurels. This year VW will introduce a new four-cylinder diesel it has dubbed the EA288 in its VW and Audi models.

The engine does what diesel engines have been doing in each of several generations since being introduced almost two decades ago – increasing horsepower and torque while decreasing fuel consumption and emissions. Our experience with VW and Audi TDI models has been excellent.

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Diesel Marches On

The engine will show up first in the new Golf due this year. Although it has the same displacement as the engine it replaces at 2.0-liters, the engine is all new, an Audi spokesperson told Clean Fleet Report. While keeping pace with new emissions restrictions, the diesel also is expected to push various models’ fuel economy ratings beyond their current range of 41-43 mpg. In addition, VW engineers said the new engine would be a worldwide model, ending the current practice of using different engines in Europe and the U.S.

As was seen in GM’s new engine line, the VW diesel added detailed features to increase efficiency, including reduced in-cylinder friction, an oil pump with controlled internal airflow, a variable water pump, a new thermal management system and a roller cam. It also has an intercooler integrated into the intake manifold and adds urea exhaust aftertreatment.

VW also announced that the EA288 will be B20 (20 percent biodiesel/80 percent ultra-low sulfur diesel) compatible. After appearing in the Golf TDI, the engine will be found in other VW and Audi products, including the Jetta, Sportwagen, Passat, Beetle and Audi A3, among others.

Words and Photos By Michael Coates; Some Photos By the Manufacturers

Posted March 29, 2014

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Diesel – Save Gas, Save The Planet Excerpt

Excerpt from Chapter 1 of Save Gas, Save the Planet: John Addison’s book about hybrid and electric cars, pathways to low carbon driving, and the future of sustainable transportation. © 2009 John Addison. All rights reserved.

Diesel

Over half of all car sales in Europe use diesel engines not gasoline. Diesel fuel contains more energy per gallon than does gasoline. Diesel engines are far more efficient than gasoline. I have enjoyed driving the new diesels from Volkswagen, Mercedes and BMW. Performance was excellent, and the driving experience was smooth and quiet.

The exhaust was invisible and without odor. The new cars perform far better than old diesel trucks and buses that can be loud and have annoying exhaust. If you plan to buy a German car, make turbodiesel your first choice. The car will probably use 25 percent to 40 percent less fuel than its gasoline counterpart.

Turbocharging compresses and delivers more air to engine cylinders, resulting in the same amount of diesel fuel delivering better mileage and performance. It took awhile for these new turbodiesels to get approval to be sold in the United States because of new federal and state emission standards and because of requirements for ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel. All new offerings are likely to be turbodiesel, so I will simply refer to these vehicles as diesel.

Should your next car be a hybrid or a diesel? The answer depends on the type of driving you do and if you want a car, truck, SUV, or minivan. The best hybrids deliver better mileage in stop-and-go city driving than do diesels. Diesels can get over 40 miles per gallon on freeways, while hybrids often have better fuel economy in city driving than on the highway.

You might also prefer a diesel engine if you are enthusiastic about biodiesel, which blends fuel from plants or waste, instead of only being sourced from petroleum. In the chapter about biofuels, you will see that some blends of biofuels help the environment while others hurt. Some types of biodiesel helps performance, others can void vehicle warranties or damage engines. The new diesels, with their high-pressure injection, demand a much higher quality fuel than the diesels of yesterday. Most automakers can void your warranty if you use over five percent biodiesel in the new diesel cars, trucks, and SUVs.

Why not have the best of both with a hybrid diesel? This approach is slowly being adopted. Thousands of buses and trucks are hybrid diesel. Volkswagen and Mercedes plan to bring hybrid diesels to the United States that will deliver over 40 miles per gallon. GM plans to bring a plug-in hybrid diesel to Europe that will deliver over 100 miles per gallon.

Millions of trucks deliver our goods, run farms, help keep our cities running, and bring people to fix our homes. Diesel has long been the standard in big heavy-trucks. Diesel engines are more efficient than gasoline and the engines last longer. Diesel fuel packs more energy per gallon than gasoline. Diesel is increasingly being offered so that light trucks can deliver more miles per gallon.