18 April 2010
Car engines have been getting larger and larger, trying to have that little more power than the competing make. Fuel was cheap so it didn't matter. Now fuel is getting dearer and makers struggle with keeping exhaust emissions down. In some European nations, how much pollution a car creates impacts on the cost of the vehicle with various punitive measures meted out.
Selling cars is competitive so car makers are nothing if not inventive. Car engines are getting smaller, however buyers still want the power they are used to so a new trend in engines is emerging. Putting one or even two turbos on a small engine is one way to keep up the power and reduce fuel use.
Other areas of improvement include smarter direct injection of fuel. Tyre technologies, energy released when breaking is sent to the alternator, some cylinders shutting down when they are not required, weight reductions, improved aerodynamics and many more features achieve improvements. I personally think cars in most cases have more power than they need already. Obviously I don't have to compensate like many men have to.
The bottom line: Expect cars in the future to have smaller engines, yet similar or improved power.
PS: Engine pictured is VW's 1.4 TSI unit, overall winner at the 2009 International Engine of the Year Awards.