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Market Forecast : Fun size

Making engines smaller and more efficient has already become big business in many European markets. The good news for powertrain suppliers is that engine downsizing is set for further growth in regions around the world

By Arif Basheer, Frost & Sullivan


Stringent emissions standards that are being enforced in many countries around the world are encouraging vehicle manufacturers to downsize engines. As a result, this has now become one of the most prominent trends in the automotive industry.

Car makers are looking to meet such emissions norms as EURO 5, the ACEA agreement and EURO 6, but the downsizing phenomenon is also opening up new technical avenues, such as micro-hybridisation and biofuels.

Upcoming emissions legislation is the biggest driver of engine downsizing and has, in turn, paved the way for the growth of technologies such as engine boosting, gasoline direct injection (GDI) and homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI). As well as providing the end consumers with benefits in increased fuel economy, downsizing also results in lower power output which, as a consequence, affects overall engine performance. But such performance issues are dealt with by using boosting technologies, which is the most cost-effective way to overcome the lower power output. In 2007, over 95% of diesel engines were boosted, and VGT was the preferred option for diesel engines, with around 61% of such powertrains using this technology. This figure is estimated to rise to 81% by 2015 for diesel applications. Gasoline boosting is yet to gain momentum, with only 18% of such engines being boosted in 2007. But Frost & Sullivan expects about 54% of gasoline engines to be boosted by 2015, with VGTs and multistage boosting gaining popularity.

The emissions standards that are being enforced by the end of this decade (EURO 5) and the middle of next decade (EURO 6) have put OEMs in a situation where they have already started working on new platforms in collaboration with other OEMs. Such partnerships not only allow OEMs to achieve volumes that greatly drive down costs, but also give them the opportunity to share technological expertise.

The BMW-PSA Group alliance for the manufacture of gasoline engines, and the cooperation between PSA and Ford for advanced exhaust aftertreatment are key examples of collaborations among OEMs.

Towards the end of the last decade, small engines in Europe generally meant powertrains that were 1.9 litres in displacement. OEMs have now developed 1.2-, 1.3- and 1.4-litre engines that are pushing the envelope of downsizing. If OEMs move a step ahead and are able to develop 1-litre diesel engines, VGTs and multistage boosting will become the most preferred options to achieve both high power output and emissions compliance. The increase in demand for turbochargers has also created an opportunity for a healthy growth in the turbocharger market, with new industry participants such as the Bosch/Mahle Turbo Systems joint venture, which is gearing up to start manufacture of exhaust gas turbochargers in 2010. Existing suppliers such as BorgWarner Turbo Systems and Honeywell Turbo Technologies have also invested in the expansion of manufacturing facilities and are increasing production of boosting systems to meet future demand. Many Asian players such as Samsung-Techwin are also considering an entry into the European market to capitalise
on the demand for boosting technologies and subsystems.

The trend towards alliances among Tier 1s is likely to gain importance as suppliers look to cash in on small- and medium-volume segments where turbochargers are likely to make key forays. European OEMs are expected to increase boosted downsized engines in the smaller volume segments that offer them the best opportunity to reach the ACEA CO2 target of 130g/km by 2012.
Engine downsizing coupled with boosting is the most cost-effective way to reduce CO2 emissions. It’s estimated that engine downsizing coupled with boosting from a standard engine increases price by up to 20% over the base price, while reducing CO2 emissions by 25% and enhancing fuel consumption over combined mode by up to 20%.

The costs involved in HCCI-based technologies range from 20-50% over and above the base price of a conventional IC engine, whereas the benefits obtained in CO2 emissions reduction is not more than 15%. As a result of such data, the costs involved in achieving partial or full HCCI are high in comparison with the benefits obtained in terms of fuel consumption and CO2 reduction.

GDI coupled with turbocharging technology will be the hottest option for gasoline engines in future years, and as a result of this trend, the use of GDI is expected to account for over 35% of the European gasoline engines’ market by 2013.

When GDI is combined with boosting technology, low-end torque behaviour of the engine and efficiency are improved. In order to obtain better residual gas control, direct injection can also be used to increase the compression ratio. GDI with boosting will increase market share of turbochargers in gasoline engines in a manner similar to that of diesel engines faced with turbocharging a few years ago.

As tough EURO 5 legislation comes into force, the fuel economy and emissions advantages are expected to increase the total penetration of GDI technology in the smaller European vehicle volume segments.

At the same time, downsizing in combination with VGT or multistage turbocharging is likely to become 30% more important to the automotive industry as car makers scramble to comply with ever-stringent ACEA CO2 emissions legislation. These cumulative factors make engine downsizing an attractive option in order to further reduce emissions and, at the same time, provide end consumers with a powertrain that is fun to drive and fuel-efficient.

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