If the internal-combustion engine gets iced, the freeze-out is decades away as the ICE is still warm to fuel efficiency gains.
"There is still a lot of potential to improve the fuel economy of the ICE. Through the technology packages that we have available and those that we are working on, we see a potential to improve fuel efficiency by about 30-33%," Sujit Jain, Regional President for the Gasoline Systems Division at Robert Bosch LLC, said recently during a media event at Bosch's Flat Rock, MI, proving ground.
Bosch's fuel smart ICE technologies include a second-generation gasoline direct-injection system comprised of an engine control unit, high-pressure pump, high-pressure sensor, and high-pressure fuel injector capable of producing 200 bar (2900 psi). When gasoline direct injection is paired with turbocharging technology and a small displacement engine, the power output is equivalent to that of a large displacement engine.
Across the industry, engine downsizing is occurring at a fast clip. For instance, Ford's 2010 light-duty passenger vehicle line-up is projected to have a fairly even mix of V8/V10 (35%), V6 (34%), and inline four-cylinder engines (31%), according to Barb Samardzich, Ford's Vice President of Global Powertrain Engineering.
Five years ago, only 10% of Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury light-duty passenger vehicles in the U.S. were powered by inline-four engines. "Technology provides the enabler that allows this type of shift to happen," Samardzich said about Ford's EcoBoost engines, which use turbocharging and gasoline direct injection to boost engine output, reduce emissions, and improve fuel efficiency by as much as 20%.
Launched in 2009, EcoBoost will assume a powerful stake in Ford's near-term propulsion portfolio. "By 2013, EcoBoost volume will be at 1.3 million units annually, and it will be available on 80% of our global nameplates," said Samardzich.
Bosch's Start/Stop system, which shuts down the ICE when a vehicle is at a standstill, represents another fuel-saving technology with momentum. Since debuting in 2007, more than 1 million units have been sold worldwide, but the first North American application is the 2010 Porsche Panamera, a four-door luxury sport sedan.
"Start/Stop can be used on either manual or automatic transmissions," said Scott Winchip, Robert Bosch's Regional President North America for Starter Motors and Generators, adding "the second-generation product is in development now and will launch in 2011."
The 2011 timeframe is targeted as the start of production for turbochargers from Bosch Mahle TurboSystems (a Bosch-Mahle 50/50 joint venture) formed in 2008 to develop, produce, and sell exhaust gas turbochargers for passenger and light commercial vehicles with diesel or gasoline engines.
"We see a lot of potential in the future for turbocharging," said Dr. Johannes-Joerg Rueger, Bosch's Senior Vice President of Diesel Systems Engineering North America.
EVs could displace ICE-powered vehicles in the long term, but the path to dominance is flush with obstacles and opportunities. Consider the weight-cost equation for an EV with a 125-mile (201-km) range.
"The energy requirement for that lithium-ion battery pack would be 35 kWh, and a battery with that energy density would weigh about 250 kg (551-lb) and cost—probably by 2015—about $17,000," said Jain. "And that's a reduction from where the technology is today."
He explained Bosch's goal, through its SB LiMotive joint venture with Samsung SDI, is to reduce the battery weight and improve the energy density of the battery, which in turn will lower the battery weight—and improve battery safety, durability, and cost.