BOXBERG, Germany -- One out of every five gasoline-powered cars sold in Europe by 2008 will feature a direct-injection system.
That is the prediction of Rolf Leonhard, executive vice president of engineering in Robert Bosch's gasoline systems division.
By 2013, he expects 40 percent of the new gasoline-powered cars sold in Europe's to feature gasoline direct-injection engines.
Bosch is so confident because the introduction of direct injection to diesel cars in 1997 has sparked a sales bonanza for new diesels. The market share for diesels in western Europe has jumped from 22.6 percent in 1997 to nearly half of the 14.6 million cars sold in the region last year.
Like Bosch, Chris Gullie, powertrain analyst at CSM Worldwide in London, forecasts a 20 percent penetration for GDI in Europe by 2008, but he is more cautious about longer range predictions.
"Our forecast horizon is currently 2011, but looking at the data we could expect to see 35 percent by 2013," he said. "What tends to make things difficult from a forecasting point of view is the future legislation -- specifically Euro VI [emission rules], which could help or hinder the progress of direct injection gasoline."
Almost 100 percent of today's diesels use direct injection. By contrast, GDI engines account for only a small fraction of the gasoline market. Suppliers such as Bosch, Siemens VDO Automotive and Magneti Marelli are working to change that.
"After a slow start [on GDI] things are now rapidly speeding up," said Bernd Bohr, head of Bosch's automotive division.
He said that by the beginning of next year Bosch will have equipped 1 million engines with the company's GDI systems.
Leonhard said GDI also is expected to gain ground in the US, where diesel sales are minimal. "We expect a 3 to 5 percent increase in GDI in the US in 2006," he predicted, "though it could well be more."
The key to the growth of GDI, according to Bosch, is turbocharging. This, combined with new-generation injectors, pumps and engine management, will enable engines to be downsized yet still produce the low-end torque car buyers value in modern diesel engines.
"Whichever way we look at it," added CSM's Gullie, "direct injection gasoline is finally coming of age."
Bosch says that much higher production volumes and simplified after-treatment systems for nitrogen oxides will enable GDI engines to meet pending, stricter emissions standards in Europe and the US at a cost comparable to that of making conventional gasoline engines.
"The costs for the overall system, consisting of engine, engine management and exhaust system for the DI gasoline engine are on a par with the simple port fuel-injection system," Leonhard said.
Suppliers and manufacturers need gasoline engines to run cleaner to help them meet emissions targets that take effect in 2008. The new generation GDI engines promise fuel efficiency gains of up to 20 percent across the fleet average. Better fuel economy means less CO2. Automakers aim to meet cut fleet CO2 to 140 grams per kilometer by 2008. The current level is 163g/km.
-- Edmund Chew contributed