Automakers are under pressure to develop vehicles possibly in divergent directions. Governments and drivers want cars that go farther on less fuel, but drivers are not about to downsize their cars at the expense of performance and convenience. At the same time, car buyers want more electronic bells and whistles to keep them entertained, connected, and safe while driving.
Stricter fuel economy standards mandated by the recently passed energy bill mean fuel-saving technologies developed for the European market will make their way to U.S. shores. BorgWarner CEO Tim Manganello predicted sales of turbochargers, including his company’s R2S offering, will triple by 2013, along with direct-injection gas engines. “Eventually every GDI engine will use at least one turbocharger,” he predicted. Dual-clutch transmissions are also projected to grow, hitting 2.5 million vehicles by 2013. Diesel motors will also be more prevalent in the U.S., with 14 vehicles carrying them, including passenger cars, crossover vehicles, and SUVs, by 2010.
Anticipating wider diesel use, French chemical company Rhodia showcased its Eolys fuel-borne catalyst. Putting 5 to 7 ppm of the catalyst in diesel fuel lowers the ignition temperature of exhaust particulates and removes 99.9% of them without fouling the filter. Rhodia claims the additive could potentially make diesel exhaust cleaner than its gasoline counterpart. The additive can also be used on older buses and other diesel vehicles.
The hunger to save fuel and cut emissions has led to some ideas that are outside the current state of the art. The Scuderi Group trumpeted the continuing virtual development of its split-cycle, airhybrid engine (see Machine Design, April 10, 2008 for more information). And although a massmarket automotive platform is at least 10 years away, Cyclone Power Technologies scaled up its near-zero-emission radial heat engine from lawn-mower size to 100 hp. (Keep an eye out for a future Engineering TV segment featuring Machine Design Editor Leland Teschler ferreting out the secrets of the device.)
If less is more when it comes to emissions, the same cannot be said for electronics. In a keynote speech, Chrysler Executive Vice President Frank Klegon touted the automaker’s addition of voice-activated GPS, satellite radio, voicemail, phonebook access, and iPod interfaces in some models. “Consumers now treat their cars like another room in their homes,” he said and pointed to plans for an advanced in-vehicle network with WiFi or 4G technology supporting Internet access and ondemand video and music.
But electronics isn’t all fun and games. OEMs continue to add features designed to make driving safer. Toyota executive Edward Mante talked in his keynote address about the need to drastically reduce the number of accidents by having vehicles sense and correct “inappropriate commands” from drivers. Vehicles that already correct oversteer and late reactions with selective braking could go farther by communicating with the infrastructure about road conditions, dangerous situations in intersections, hidden vehicles, and stopped traffic.
The growing presence of electronics means modern cars have up to 100 electronic subsystems that control everything from engine timing to radio volume. Streamlining the integration of these systems is the aim of SystemLab PS debuted by CPU Technologies at the show. Using SystemLab, each electronics module can be attached virtually, with code simulating circuit board behavior, or using actual hardware for real-time testing and step-through visibility. The company claims testing time drops from weeks to hours.
CPU Technologies Inc., cputech.com
Cyclone Power Technologies, cyclonepower.com
Scuderi Group, scuderigroup.com