Issue: Mar 2007


GASOLINE ENGINE DOWNSIZING HAS SUPPLIER HOPING



by Bob Brooks

AI asked GM vice-chairman Bob Lutz at the recent Chicago Auto Show for his view of the outlook for downsized gasoline direct injected (GDI) turbo boosted 4-cylinder engines as a way to improve vehicle fuel efficiency. His reply, “It is a good system and will increase prices about $1400”
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With Bob Lutz’s view in context with worldwide efforts to improve passenger car fuel efficiency and emissions well under way, AI talked to Veritas AG, a Gelnhausen, Germany firm with appr. 3,000 employees that specializes in automotive supercharged-air ducts and a broad array of engine fuel and hydraulic tube elements for both engine compartments and under floor applications..

Veritas spokesman and member of the board, Bernhard Beck said the firm’s market analysis indicates that current EU car production, now about 50/50 gasoline/diesel, is expected to be 60/40 gasoline/diesel by 2020 and that many motorists will switch to lower cost smaller gasoline vehicles with less performance and lower emissions. He said the firm sees growth in diesels for the largest passenger vehicles such as SUVs in the US with mass market cars turning to downsized gasoline (GDI) boosted engines for cost and also for efficiency and emissions reasons. Veritas is prepared to support the market anyway, the supplied supercharged-air ducts are already used in high-performance diesel and gasoline engines, as well as in emissions optimized downsized engines.

Beck pointed out that diesel fuel in Germany was priced about 20% less than gasoline not long ago but is now within 10% of gasoline and expected to equalize soon as the EU emission regulations put more emphasis on the better overall emissions characteristic of gasoline engines. He added that the changeover situation now favors US makers which did not tool for car diesels in recent years, largely due to past car diesel quality problems and low cost gasoline.

Motorist cost difference for downsized GDI boosted engines may be nominal if the basis of comparison is new 4-cylinder engines as replacements for current naturally aspirated 6-cylinder engines which are typically priced about $1200 more, according to Northern Illinois Chevrolet dealer. An industry source close to the issue told AI that at Bob Lutz’s $1400 upcharge indication, something close to half of that amount represents the added turbocharger, intercooler and related parts with the balance accounting for the GDI system and variable valves

Beck said a current priority program at Veritas is preparing for production of the duct elements that transfer pressurized air from the turbocharger to the intake of a 2.8L gasoline engine for a client’s near term volume production in the EU and later in the US. A flexible bellows duct employing new Veritas material for operation up to 185 deg C has been developed. Flexible ducts with this material are currently supplied to BMW, Mercedes and VW.


Veritas has production facilities in Germany, Spain, Hungary, Mexico, Austria and soon in Turkey. Its US sales office is in Troy, Michigan. Beck says the firm is proud of its materials expertise and comprehensive in-house manufacturing capabilities.

In the US, the price of gasoline is now below diesel which is not available at many US fuel stations. It’s cold weather problems in part due to shortages of #1 fuel for blending with #2 to prevent waxing combine to make US changeover to diesels that much less attractive.

The $1400 price difference Bob Lutz refers also raises the question of how many downsized turbo engines will be direct injected and how many may employ lower cost port injection as proposed by Southwest Research Institute as an option for its advanced HEDGE system high efficiency dilute gasoline engine technology. 20 firms including Ford, Honda, VW, Volvo, Renault, Nissan and others are sponsoring development of HEDGE engines which have very high EGR rates, high compression ratios and advanced ignition technology .


About the author: Bob Brooks is a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers and long time automotive technology journalist specializing in powertrains and fuels.


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