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Old 31st May 2008, 13:51   #1
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Default With rising fuel prices, are small capacity blown petrol engines the way forward?

With the impending fuel price hike and the general consensus for more fuel efficient and greener engines, what are the possible short to medium term (partial) solutions to offset this problem? Let us explore a few options:

Hybrids

Hybrids are slowly making their way into the market. The upcoming Civic and Scorpio suggest that manufacturers are serious about going this route. But it will be expensive till it is mass manufactured and/or cheaper production solutions are found.


Electric Vehicles

The Reva is our very own electric car. But can an electric car replace a combustion motor for everyday use in the short term? Battery technology has to improve for better efficiency, compact size, longer range etc.


Fuel Cell/Hydrogen

These are a long way off (for the Indian market), so should be classified as long term solutions.


So, what other option exists that can deliver:

1. Less emissions
2. Better fuel efficiency and most important
3. Decent power!


There are some who believe that smaller capacity turbocharged/supercharged/bi-turbo petrol engines are the way forward. A 1000cc blown petrol for example can deliver a 1.3 petrol engine performance without loss of fuel efficiency and lower emissions to boot.

Just look at all the bigger hatchbacks running around with tiny 1.2 petrol engines in the name of tax-breaks. Why not turbo charge these bad boys?

Suzuki already has such engines in their tiny-tot-run-abouts that potter around the streets of Tokyo. Fiat too has similar engines. Now, with some Indian ingenuity, these engines can be made cost efficient.

What say?
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Old 31st May 2008, 19:59   #2
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I believe anything relying on the fossil fuels should be discontinued.

Electric is the way forward. I was watching a program on discovery which showed an electric car which could outrun a Ferrari but the technology to be commercially viable would be another 20-30 years.

But with fuel prices touching the sky, I guess it will come earlier (10 years ??)
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Old 31st May 2008, 20:20   #3
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Most of these new technology is still in its early teens internationally. So, i dont think they will make it to a price sensitive market like India so soon.

IMO, the way forward in the next decade (in India) will be advanced diesel engine technology. We have seen how 1.3L diesel engines can go circles around small 1 L engines, and still return more kilometers per litre. (and diesel is far cheaper as well).

The initiative by Mahindra is welcome though. Read somewhere that such a small capacity diesel hybrid will be a first in the US market as well, where they plan to lauch it first. Reva is a nice concept, but certainly has a long long way to go before it can be called a proper car.
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Old 31st May 2008, 20:23   #4
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a good public transport system and carpooling ?
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Old 31st May 2008, 21:04   #5
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small capacity turbocharged diesels will be amazing
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Old 31st May 2008, 22:15   #6
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Personally i run a small 118d Beemer @ 143 horses,300 N/ torque and @ 20kmpl for diesel. The start stop technology helps a lot and in regular bumper to bumper traffic like ours this would be a boon. I read somewhere that Mahindra intends to incorporate this in a Bolero .

Simple but effective... Technology is the way forward.

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Old 31st May 2008, 23:56   #7
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It's a good idea Maser but more for technologically developed markets like Europe, in our market the added complexity is not going to be very welcome either with the consumers (Higher cost of part replacement in case of critical parts failure & lack of technical expertise at service centres) and manufacturers due to higher production cost.

I believe that as a market we're still at a nascent stage to embrace these kind of technologies.

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Originally Posted by dadu View Post
I believe anything relying on the fossil fuels should be discontinued.

Electric is the way forward. I was watching a program on discovery which showed an electric car which could outrun a Ferrari but the technology to be commercially viable would be another 20-30 years.
Right. And do you also believe that all of the world's electricity production is done by not using fossil fuels?? Or that recharging electric cars will mean that fossil fuels are not used?
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Old 1st June 2008, 00:18   #8
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Hydrogen. Produced by splitting water using Solar power
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Old 1st June 2008, 00:27   #9
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Why not use alternate fuels like CNG and LPG and then mod them(engines).
Google up info on CNG and LPG and you would discover that these fuels if used effectively can be both efficient and more powerful than gasoline and also mods like turbocharging work better on CNG/LPG/Diesels than on Petrol/Gasoline.
My Ikon 1.6 returns Rs.1.10-1.20 with hard aggresive driving and delivers better mid-range and top-end performance than petrol.
So we can keep our big engines and mod them and use alternate fuels to save the planet and our hard earned money and fullfill our ever incresing need for speed!

Last edited by abhik : 1st June 2008 at 00:29.
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Old 1st June 2008, 06:49   #10
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Smaller petrol engines should means that they have to carry more technology not just 1.3L to 1.2L. The just reduction in engine size does not mean any saving(about 1kmpl and even less in reality as the smaller engine has to work harder to push the car and so more emissions) in fuel but the life of the vehicle will come down leading to overall higher energy consumption. If this concept is to be believed the Bajaj Auto must have the best of the world fuel economy, despite its ultra light body.

There are a lot of technologies avaiable out there that can be used in these cars, one of the best methods of construction of petrol engines is cylinder deactivation. The mordern 4 cylinder 1.2/1.3L hatchback engines can stop injecting and firing two of the cylinders to save on fuel, when idling, fire only three cylinders with AC idling and light acceleration. This will mean that each cylinder still operates on 14:1 mixture ration(low emissions). The cheapest thing that i feel is that cars can have as of now is selective firing, i.e Instead of engine firing all the cylinders all the time, they can fire three cylinders in a cycle and the other two in the next cycle(some what like deactivation but with low cost and higher benefit). This will directly produce a 10-15% increase in fuel economy in cities like Bangalore where the engies idle most of the time. Will not help much in other cities.

Valve train technologies are quite mature and are quite cheap to bring in. So it is quite easily possible to bring in hardware like VVTi at allmost no increase in price. These increases fuel economy by about 5%, by providing a small boost for torque at low end and can be coupled with reduction in cylinder size be small invisible numbers to provide real economy increase. The VTech is better technology as it provides real low end torque boost with lower lift and three vavle setup at low RPM and high lift and four valve setup at high RPM.

One more interesting concept that can be brought in is mixed cylinder size. All the cylinders should not be of same size. within the cylinders there should be a variance of upto 50%. That is if the engine is 700cc and twin cylinder, one cylinder can be about 400cc and other 300cc. This combined with selective firing can allow a verity of cylinder size combinations from 300cc to about 700cc in very small steps if we include the partial firing. Allowing you to have good high end as well as good mileage. The cost of this change is barely in the production shops(but you also need multiple piston heads which makes it a bit pricey on the manufacturing front) and will provide you with about 10% savings.


Dual fuel in all cars, there is always the simple way where you add kit capacity that allow your car to run on petrol as well as CNG/LPG according to your area(many cities dont have LPG and other no CNG). One more complex way i think will help is injecting fuel and LPG/CNG together into the cylinder, this will reduce the amount of CNG consumption and Petrol consumption by producing even flame spread and lean but well formed mixture. This is something i guess is never tried out, so will need some research but i guess the current business model may not allow this to happen. This mixture ratio can be varied as RPM changes, to provide the best technology avaiable.

Equally good concept is turbocharging, we can go for engine about 60-70% the size of the current one and introduce a high spool/bypass turbo(not the ones that come active at high speeds). That is our cars like i10 can have about 800cc engines with high spool turbo and higher lift cam setup. This will produce quite a good savings as people will get serious amount of torque at low speed, allowing taller gears than that of 1.2L engine. The Fiat T-Jet engine found in Linea(1.3L) is a good example, this concept has just started and will become famous world wide(dont tallk about manufacturers in India). The next panda will come with a 900cc engine, if you want a peek. This i think will be biggest step in increasing fuel economy at lowest cost. you can get upto 3 kmpl with our firms just spending about 20-40K on a F.G. bypass Turbo. Prices will further come down as numbers increase. It can come as low as 10-15K

The cylinder deactivation setup will work best if we have some form of allowing the engine to breathe free. We will need two modifications on the existing engines, two/four computer controlled butterfly valves(By-Wire) and a air transporter tube near the intake manifold to carry air into the exhaust port(activated by solinoid). These to will allow the cylinders to operate with minimal pumping losses when deactivated and thus very much delaying the activation time and some more fuel.



Better way of boosting that power further is to use a parallel Hybrid setup with CVT/Manual transmission. When the engine is driving at low RPMs the motor can step in and produce a few BHPs more to produce the necessary torque.

In all these setup the petrol engine needs to operate like diesels, the ecm must think about the torque necessary to keep the engine working. All these changes are i guess presented in increasing order of cost and research.

Diesel engine in itself has lesser scope for improvement compared to petrol if you take into consideration what is present in the Swift. The major technological improvment is already over and what ever happens it will be tweaking and tuning. So getting a better ECM will increase economy and power.

The next biggest change the diesel can have is a piezo injector may be making upto 10(not sure) injections per cycle allowing some more torque production and economy. The mordern Merc diesels have it.

You can always go in for cylinder deactivation and hybrids but already higher price of diesel engines means that technology is going to flow in a lot slower. The petrol cousins will easily outshine diesels(in overall cost and comfort) with some of the technologies i posted before but the fact that amazing diesels are already available means that we can save immedietly by buying diesel instead of petrol but over a lifetime petrol cars are still far cheaper.

But the double edged sword is buying diesels is that if we buy diesel car we become heavy on the economy(country). That is government has to think four times to increase the price of diesel(Inflation) which affects our infrastructure investments(also directly by lower taxes collected on every litre diesel). There is a also a steady increase in consumption of diesel world wide and we will hit a time when diesel will be far pricier than petrol in the market(it already is pricier) though our government will sell us at cheaper price. This means there will be pressure built in some time to quickly increase the price of diesel or our economy has to bear the price by paying through other tax. The tax that we are already paying and invisible is serious increase in transportation cost of goods and we pay a lot more on all products. If we still primarily drove petrol cars, our cars would cost about 50K-1L less(lower input costs) and petrol price would be around the same arena(Rs.53-55). This advantages may be directly visible in the US economy, but theirs is far mature than ours. Also, Hydrogen will move in more easily if we run more on petrol than on diesel.

All these disadvantages plus considering the fact that higher maintainance and purchase price of diesels means that petrol makes a good choice for personal offerings. So think thrice or even 10 times before buying your next diesel car(dont ask why should i pay for more when cheaper fuel is avaiable), but considering the trend we will continue paying the price as smaller and better diesel car will keep comming in.

Last edited by tsk1979 : 2nd June 2008 at 11:31.
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Old 1st June 2008, 07:33   #11
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@arunmur: Nice post. Seems like a lot of thought has gone into it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by arunmur View Post
The mordern 4 cylinder 1.2/1.3L hatchback engines can stop injecting and firing two of the cylinders to save on fuel, when idling, fire only three cylinders with AC idling and light acceleration.
AFAIK, Honda has come up with Variable Cylinder Management in the new Accord V6. The technology is still only developing, and hasn't even started to feature in most luxury cars/ super cars as yet.
Quote:
Originally Posted by arunmur View Post
Valve train technologies are quite mature and are quite cheap to bring in.
I wonder why Honda is charging a premium over 1L for the same!
Quote:
Originally Posted by arunmur View Post
One more interesting concept that can be brought in is mixed cylinder size. All the cylinders should not be of same size. within the cylinders there should be a variance of upto 50%. That is if the engine is 700cc and twin cylinder, one cylinder can be about 400cc and other 300cc.
How can such an engine be balanced? NVH would have to be severely compromised for FE.
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Old 1st June 2008, 07:50   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arunmur View Post
Diesel engine in itself has lesser scope for improvement compared to petrol if you take into consideration what is present in the Swift.
Didn't quite get you! Are you saying that diesels have reached the limit of technology?
Quote:
Originally Posted by arunmur View Post
But the double edged sword is buying diesels is that if we buy diesel car we become heavy on the economy(country). That is government has to think four times to increase the price of diesel(Inflation) which affects our infrastructure investments(also directly by lower taxes collected on every litre diesel).
Govt has to think many times over to increase prices of diesel because the whole public transport system, and goods transport system depends on diesel. Suppose, diesel is priced same as petrol- the inflation would shoot up! Most of the commodities in the market will go up, either because of increased raw material cost, increased transportation charges etc.
Quote:
Originally Posted by arunmur View Post
petrol makes a good choice for personal offerings. So think thrice or even 10 times before buying your next diesel car
Companies like Audi are trying hard to incorporate diesel technology into their racing cars/ super cars. Mercedes is meeting the strictest of emission norms in the US with diesels. Small hatches are Alto/ WagonR are being beaten in running costs by far more expensive sedans. Atleast in the Indian context, can't agree with this one mate!
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Old 1st June 2008, 09:32   #13
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According to me, a well planned city/town where in one does not have to go beyond 2-3 kms for work, which has good cycling tracks and every place well connected by metro...

So in this circumstance it would discourage most to use their personal transport for everyday use....go to office by cycle, take metro if you want to go for a movie.. shopping etc.

On the weekend people who love to drive can take their monsters for a long drive/ride!

Here the automobile industry will take a hit, but i guess this is would be a ideal thing to do...
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Old 1st June 2008, 10:19   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dadu View Post
I believe anything relying on the fossil fuels should be discontinued.

Electric is the way forward. I was watching a program on discovery which showed an electric car which could outrun a Ferrari but the technology to be commercially viable would be another 20-30 years.

But with fuel prices touching the sky, I guess it will come earlier (10 years ??)
Hasn't anyone heard of the Tesla Roadster?
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Old 2nd June 2008, 07:02   #15
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@Crazydriver:

Thanks for the inputs. Here is what i feel.

I am well aware that the new Honda Accord V6 has actual cylinder deactivation. But All we need to do in our 4 cylinder engines is fire either 2 or 3 cylinders in cyclic order. That is fire 124 then 234 then 421 or some order like this. This way we can produce 25% less power. In the old days cars could run at 16:1 fuel mixture to save fuel but due to the strict emission norms all mordern cars run at close to 14:1 ratio even if power is not needed. Firing only three cylinders means we still achive more with same emissions. Cylinder deactivation also includes stopping of valve operations and in some cases disconnecting some cylinders all together.

Honda charges premium for any thing in India so valve train managment is not new. Any way the VTec is quite a bit more complex technology compared to VVT. The VVT uses just a gear between the camshaft and camdrive with a hydraulic/electric actuator to hold it in position. The more pressure is applied at the actuator the more the timing will advance. The complexity is we need a DOHC for this to work.

About variable sized engines it is quite possible NVH and balancer shafts are small engineering feat. It will need some work, but it is possible thats why its lower on the list. But that is one thing i see we can achive some reduction fuel combustion, without compramising emissions.

About the diesel, yeah it appears cheaper but it really is not.
1 - The economy is paying for every litre of diesel that we purchase instead of petrol. Some simple straight fact diesel in market is atleast a few notch costlier than petrol. The government subsidises diesel by charging only 30ps tax for ever Rs.1 diesel compared to 60ps on Rs.1 of petrol. So if we spent that Rs.1 on petrol instead of diesel government can loot twice the amount and also has a chance to provide us with twice the development compared to what it can provide. The more better roads we have the more fuel we can save ultimately. Also better infrastructre may also mean better public transport.
2 - Since almost 20% for diesel demand is created by private vehicles the overall demend is increased leading to demand supply gap and increase in price which is leading to all these price variation.
3 - The base metal cost in general, across the world is falling due to sub prime crissis at the US and a general reduction in product consumption across thw world. Its only the energy to convert base metal into a product that is in raise. In most situations the diesel/kerosene is used as a fuel by our comapnies to do so(Our power companies charge more per KW than what people get from generating power from diesel/kerosene/coal, even fairly small companies find it cheaper to setup their own power plant). So as the price of fuel goes up price of all the commodities will raise, as we need fuel at various stages even in agriculture. There is also a demand supply gap in our industry as we started to consume more than we can produce. They can offset this only by buying more such machines which only takes the consumption higher and more gap. This is only offset if we stop consuming or if we start importing. But as an example, the main reason prices of steal is going up because prices of coke(not product but material) has gone up which is a derivative of coal manufacutred by dry heating of some quality coal(which needs fuel). This is why fuel price(mainly diesel) increase creates various cycles of price increase as industry anticipates it, the prices will go up even before they start seeing increase in input price to keep profitability.
4 - Diesel cars even today costs about atleast 70k more than its petrol counter part and over a lifetime of about 1L Km it consumes twice as many services and oil changes. Overall the higher amount of carbon deposits mean more maintainance. The only reason diesel cars look cheap is because we get equal or better resale value and every tank of fuel we fill in is cheap. Even when we get subsidised diesel price the price of running a petrol car is just a bit higher than diesel car over all. If private consumption of diesel keeps increasing the government is forced to find a solution to seperate the transport and private car fuel. I guess this will happen in some time, may be two or three years. Then diesel cars will stop looking as juicy as a safe precaution look at petrol cars if it really costlly. Some people travelling 1000kms per month it may appear so at present.
5 - Some increase in demand for diesel can be offset by better technology in heavy vehicles. The current set of heavy vehicles have no technology not even the great Volvo trucks/busses. So introduction of CRDi and ECM in these engine will mean some bit of savings but that means major increase in transportation prices as we do not sport that kind of skill to repair these technologies in case of a break down. But if the NANO can have why not the TATA Trucks.

Last edited by arunmur : 2nd June 2008 at 07:06.
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