Gasoline Engines May Soon Gain New Life In Europe
|   Saturday, November 24, 2012
In a nutshell, thanks to new emissions rules which are expected to hit diesels engines, gasoline powerplants may see greener pastures.
Although there have been a lot of discussions about the pros and cons of electric vehicles and/or fuel cell, right now their development has not resulted in the desired outcome. 
So automakers turned to hybrid vehicles, one of the sure ways to meet the European Union's standards on toxic emissions.

All vehicles sold in the EU in 2015 should not go over an average of 130 g/km of carbon dioxide emissions, according to the Euro 6 standard effective from September 2014.
By 2020, cuts to 95 g/km are being considered by regulators.

Colin Dodge, Nissan's executive in Europe stated for Automotive News Europe that "The infrastructure rollout has been slower than we hoped." He continued saying that "Government support is waning because of the [poor] economy everywhere [therefore] they find it a little more difficult to justify."

He shares a similar vision with Daimler CEO, Dieter Zetsche, who foresaw that vehicles using fuel cells will face similar conditions; the lack of refueling stations is keeping progress down. He said Mercedes-Benz has plans to launch a production fuel cell vehicle in 2014, 1 year earlier than previously estimated.

That is just face to the problem. CLEPA, the European suppliers association, believes that electric and fuel cell cars will not infringe on combustion engine territory that much. The one who will suffer is the diesel engine. Because car makers have been forced to cut the emissions of nitrogen oxides from 180 mg/km to 80 mg/km, they also upped the prices of cars using diesel fuel.

"The long-term fate of diesel engines in Europe depends on where those emissions standards settle in," stated Michael Ableson, head of engineering at Opel/Vauxhall. "That will affect the material cost of the powertrain."

IHS Automotive believes that diesels are expected to lose some ground between 2015 to 2020. IHS senior powertrain analyst Marc Rinkel thinks that "Overall, we're looking at a 4 to 5 percent reduction in diesel compared with gasoline engines."

Experts say making gasoline pass Euro 6 is easier than diesel. As a result, automakers are making smaller engines fitted with turbochargers and direct injection, in order to make gasoline engines more efficient with no penalty to performance.

For example, Renault has developed a new engine with 3 cylinders and 12 valves, the Energy TCe 90 that uses just 4.3 liters of gasoline every 100km and emits 99 g/km of CO2.
The EcoBoost engines from Ford walk on a similar path too. It says the new 3 cylinder 1 liter turbocharged gasoline direct-injection engine made up 30 percent of Focus sales this year. Ford will use the engine in its B-Max and C-Max minivans too.

JATO Dynamics says that 20 of the top 25 automakers selling their goods in Europe have lowered their average engine displacement since 2006. The exceptions are Mini, Dacia, Chevrolet, Citroen and Mitsubishi.

"If your diesel costs are getting higher and higher, then the way to achieve the lowest fuel economy is to electrify the gasoline engines," say Ford's specialists.
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