Khodrocar - Shinichi Kiga, head of Nissan’s gasoline engine project group, told Reuters the Japanese automaker is resolved to keep improving internal combustion technology to prolong its usefulness for decades to come. A new Infiniti QX50 sport utility vehicle to be unveiled at a media event in Los Angeles on Nov. 28 will highlight one technology Kiga plans to use.
The QX50 will be the industry’s first use of a variable compression ratio system. The engine has a maximum thermal efficiency of around 40 percent, as much as twice the level of current gasoline engines in the industry, which average around 20 to 30 percent. Thermal efficiency refers to the power an engine generates from a unit of fuel.
The Nissan/Infiniti VC Turbo illustrates a challenge for policy makers eager to see the end of the internal combustion engine’s dominance of transportation. While battery costs for electric vehicles are coming down, improvements in internal combustion engine efficiency could push the moment when electric vehicles achieve cost parity without government subsidies further into the future.
Advancing the internal combustion engine technology is "one of the most overlooked trends in the industry,” James Chao, Asia-Pacific chief of consultancy IHS Markit Automotive, said. "These advances beg the question. Are EVs the best solution to the issue of vehicle greenhouse emissions?”
The newfangled engine, dubbed VC-Turbo for marketing purposes, uses new electronics and software to continually choose an optimal compression ratio for combustion – until now a key factor in the trade-off between power and efficiency in a gasoline-fueled engine.
Kiga said the VC Turbo system costs thousands of dollars less than a comparable gasoline-electric hybrid car, although a VC Turbo hybrid could be in the offing.