The Internal Combustion Engine Hardly Down and Out

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Green, Product Developments

A colleague passed on a pair of articles from SAE International’s recent SAE World Congress event that quite frankly, put a little reality into the discussion around BEV’s (Battery Electric Vehicles). The one statement sums it up well, “The basic takeaway from what powertrain experts said when looking out as far as 2050 is strikingly similar to what they might say about 2011: There is a fundamental need to improve the efficiency of the internal-combustion engine (ICE). The internal combustion engine: that ole clunker technology that the majority of the US population relies upon?

Executives from Ford agreed, “Advanced diesel and gasoline engines, and alternative fuels, are really at the middle of everything that we are doing, said Gerhard Schmidt, Chief Technology Officer and Vice President of Research and Advanced Engineering at Ford Motor Co. “For the next 10, 20, maybe even 30 years, these more Ëœclassical powertrains’ will dominate our industry. Tier one producer Bosch agreed according to Johannes-Joerg Rueger, Senior Vice President of Diesel Systems Engineering at Robert Bosch LLC, “We have to be realistic. That’s key. It’s necessary to be enthusiastic about future technologies, otherwise we will never start to develop them and we will never get anywhere, he said.

Some of the innovation (not discussed by the mainstream press because it’s either not green enough or we would argue cool enough) involves the development of “the old technology as the article summarized using liquid fuels such as biofuels. “We firmly believe that liquid fuels are going to be there for a long time”more and more they’re going to be from alternative sources. That’s why we need to optimize the propulsion systems for those liquid fuels, J. Gary Smyth, Director of Powertrain Systems Research Lab at General Motors R&D said. “But we also have to drive into electrification. PHEV’s (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles), “are ready for prime time, according to Don Hillebrand, Director of the Center for Transportation Research at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois. But BEVs are not. The limitation of BEV’s involves one primary factor range.  Hillebrand does not believe any of the current technologies address that issue which Hillebrand views as key for electric vehicles.

None of this is to say that people won’t buy the emerging technologies but as long as people make buying decisions on total cost of ownership, BEVs still have a way to go.

–Lisa Reisman

(Hat Tip: TS)

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