During the past year, electric cars and advanced battery technology have dominated the headlines and the airwaves. However, today General Motors Co. announced that it plans to invest $890 million in five North American plants to build a new generation of fuel-efficient small-block car and truck engines. What do you think of this? Will the internal combustion engine still dominate the marketplace in 2020?
During the past year, electric cars and advanced battery technology have dominated the headlines and the airwaves. However, while researching an article on green automotive technology last year (see “The Road to Green”), several people who I spoke to predicted that the good old, internal combustion engine (ICE) will be around for a few more decades. Today’s news from General Motors Co. certainly confirms this.
The auto giant plans to invest $890 million in five North American plants to build a new generation of fuel-efficient small-block car and truck engines. The bulk of that investment will be earmarked for GM’s engine assembly plants in Tonawanda, NY, and St. Catharines, ON.
“The investments include facility renovation and installation of new, highly flexible engine machining and assembly equipment, and special tooling designed for manufacturing efficiency and engine quality,” says Mark Reuss, president of GM North America.
“The next-generation, small-block engine family will have unprecedented fuel efficiency through direct injection and an all-new advanced combustion system design,” adds Reuss. “The new engine family will rely exclusively on aluminum engine blocks, which are lighter and contribute to improved fuel efficiency.”
In addition to direct fuel injection and engine downsizing, many automakers and suppliers are also focusing on technologies such as turbocharging, stop-start systems and electric power steering. For instance, GM engineers have developed a homogeneous-charge compression-ignition (HCCI) engine, which has been called the “holy grail” of ICE technology. It uses a lean-mixture combustion process that offers a 15 percent to 20 percent leap in fuel efficiency. The HCCI engine combines attributes of gasoline and compression-ignition (diesel) engines.
According to the Boston Consulting Group Inc., a combination of advanced technologies can boost the fuel efficiency of a gasoline-based ICE by 20 percent, translating into corresponding reductions in CO2 emissions.
What do you think? Will the internal combustion engine still dominate the marketplace in 2020?
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