TRAVERSE CITY, MICH.-- Dont write off the internal combustion engine yet.
Breakthrough technologies could boost fuel economy between 25 and 70 percent, reduce emissions as much as 95 percent and increase performance, powertrain officials said on Tuesday at the Management Briefing Seminars.
Automakers should not just focus on fuel cells, but should also invest in improving the internal combustion engine, said Helmut List, chairman of AVL List GmbH, a Graz, Austria, powertrain engineering firm.
List compared long-term powertrain research to investing.
Five years ago, some people invested heavily in Internet stocks. Our situation today is the same with societys investment in transportation research, said List. Here, we should take a portfolio approach. Today, in the United States, there is little debate about the preferred technology in the long run.
List said it is a mistake to think that hydrogen fuel for automobiles is the only answer for lowering oil imports and reducing emissions. List believes hydrogen powered fuel cell automobiles are at least 15 years away.
Research underway at General Motors could yield improvements in fuel economy of up to 25 percent in gasoline engines, said Hazem Ezzat, director of GMs Powertrain Systems Research Lab.
Those gains will come through the addition of a combination of technologies, including hybrid powertrains, cylinder deactivation, gasoline direct injection, variable valve timing and six-speed transmissions.
List said his company is working on technologies for the internal combustion engine that were not possible 10 years ago. He said AVL List is working on flexible engine designs that meld the best traits of gasoline and diesels.