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The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
There were at least two things missing when General Motors debuted its new line of SUVs in New York last month.
The Automotive Industry Creates Some Odd Bedfellows
Sometimes automakers have holes in their line-up bigger than Van Halen did in 1985. Due to a lack of time, resources or manufacturing facilities, the company looks for a quick fix. The solution? Grab a vehicle from another company that fills the void and rebrand it as their own. But like Wade Boggs in a New York Yankees uniform, these rebadged vehicles never look quite right. And, like any decision made by cobbling together bits and pieces from here and there, it doesn’t always work.
In the world of rebadging, Australian General Motors division Holden is king. The company will rebadge anything and everything for the Australian market. Since Holden could have a top ten list entirely their own, we’ll skip them. Instead, let’s focus on vehicles most in North America will recognise in either current or rebadged form. We are not talking platform engineered cars within a company or ones co-developed between two companies, but rather vehicle rebrand jobs that seem to come out of left field and are thinly disguised.
Despite advancements in hybrid power-trains and electrification technology, gasoline engines remain the predominant choice in passenger cars because of continued efficiency improvements, most recently through the increased use of direct injection technology. But are you gambling when buying a car with DI, which still has its fair share of concerns and problems?
Every car, whether it has a big V8 engine or an electric motor powering the wheels, is being equipped with fuel saving technologies.
Recall variable-valve timing. Introduced on the Acura NSX, and at one time a revolutionary technology, now practically all cars have some form of VVT. Now more technologies are being introduced as innovations for saving fuel. Let’s take a look at some of the more important and popular features being introduced on new models; many of which will soon be as prevalent as variable valve timing.
That update will occur in Japan, we might add, but these days with increasing pressure on automakers to reduce fuel consumption and emissions output, plus an increasing need to standardize powertrains and features around the globe, there’s probably a chance we’ll see similar changes to our Legacy and Outback down the road.
Fuel mileage, horsepower and overall performance are key ingredients in the recipe for any successful car these days.
Maybe that’s why GM made the announcement to reporters at the North American International Auto Show that they plan to scrap the unimpressive naturally aspirated 2.4-liter four cylinder found in the Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain and Buick‘s Verano and Regal. In it’s place, a 2.5-liter direct injected (cue fireworks) Ecotec inline four! The new engine will be 18 horses peppier than its predecessor for a total of 190 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque. It’s also going to be a lot less noisy, smoother and best of all, more efficient.
GM said they plan to make the transition between engines within the next 12 months, so look forward to a more refined American experience from GM.
Honda has announced it will debut an all-new Accord Coupe concept at the Detroit Auto Show in January and if past concepts (above) are any guess it will bear a close resemblance to the production model. In a press release Honda calls the concept “dynamic and aggressive”.
The concept foreshadows a production version of the 9th generation Accord, which will debut as a 2013 model and will go on sale in the Fall of 2012.
No details of the vehicle have been provided but Honda recently announced details that it would add direct-injection to much of its lineup, including its V6 and 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engines. Also look for the use of a CVT transmission as opposed to a conventional automatic. Honda has announced a commitment to be a leader in both fuel economy and engine output
See AutoGuide’s complete 2012 Detroit Auto Show coverage here.
Chevrolet is offering more for less by adding direct injection to their upcoming line of Gen-V small block engines.
“The Gen-V small block is an all-new, state-of-the-art engine family that will offer more efficiency and refinement than any other small block in its more than half-century of production,” chief engineer Jordan Lee said to Left Lane News. “For customers, that will mean cars and trucks that deliver more while using less gas to do it.”
Direct injection technology delivers more power and lower fuel consumption by making each engine stroke more precise. That increase precision allows for higher compression ratios and consequently more power out of a smaller machine.
Though official numbers havent been released, it’s speculated that the version of the Gen-V going into the Corvette will shrink from 6.2 to 5.5 liters. Despite that it will meet if not exceed the current engine’s 430 horsepower rating.
Chevrolet’s commitment to the new engine line is more than good news for consumers, it also means more jobs. The company is devoting $1 billion to the project, creating or sustaining 1,711 positions. There isn’t a firm date yet, but Chevrolet says the Gen-V will be available in the near future.
Much has been said about the new Honda Civic receiving a list of early updates in a bid to silence critics while restoring the car’s class-leading fuel economy. This has all but been confirmed, with the Japanese automaker revealing an entire new lineup of engines and transmissions at a press briefing held at the Twin Ring Motegi Racing Circuit on the eve of the Tokyo Motor Show.
In total, Honda unveiled five all-new engines, ranging from a new Kei car 660 cc motor, to a flagship 3.5-liter V6 powertrain. With these engines Honda has said it is committed to being both a leader in fuel economy and engine output.
Engines destined for North America include a new 1.5-liter, 1.8-liter and 2.4-liter 4-cylinder, as well as a 3.5-liter V6. Across the board, all will receive direct-injection technology. The 4-cylinder engines gain a new VTEC arrangement with an Atkinson cycle lower load cam plus extensive friction reduction technologies. The result on a car like the Civic will be a 10 percent improvement in fuel economy, plus a 5 percent increase in power over the current model. The same goes for the 2.4-liter, which one Honda representative told us the new 2012 CR-V just missed out on receiving.
As for the V6 engine, it will replace both the current 3.5-liter and 3.7-liter engines, combining the best technologies of both, including a cylinder deactivation system while gaining direct injection. Honda provided a preliminary, and conservative, estimated power output with 310-hp and 265 lb-ft of torque, with a much stronger torque band.
Of note, all of the engines included a start-stop function, although no decision has been made by Honda as to whether we’ll see this technology in North America.
Apart from the new dual-clutch 7-speed transmission (integrated into a new SH-AW, discussion of automatics at the Honda event was non-existent. Instead, Honda revealed several new CVTs (and yes, they can hear you groaning in Motegi). Of note is a new CVT designed for compact cars, as well as another for mid-size, meaning you should look for CVTs to find their way into cars like the Civic, Accord and CR-V soon. As terrible as all this may sound for Honda owners dreading the thought of a CVT, the good news is what Honda is calling “G-Design Shift”, which was created to help deliver more immediate throttle response. We did have the change to test out the new CVT in a 2.4-liter direct-injection TSX but we can’t tell you about it until the embargo lifts next week. Stay tuned.
Not too long ago, four-cylinder engines in most North American market vehicles were seen as an afterthought, something to give the rental fleets and entry-level buyers.
Today however, that perception appears to have changed, certainly among volume brands like Chevrolet. So far this year, GM has reported that four-cylinder powered vehicles are representing approximately 46 percent of total Chevy retail sales, contrasting with just 23 percent in 2007. Higher fuel prices and environmental ‘awareness’ likely play a part, but so does technology.
Today’s four-cylinder engines are much more refined and powerful, to the point that the old adage ‘there’s no replacement for displacement’ doesn’t really apply any more.
GM has spent a huge amount of R&D and engineering on improving its four-cylinder engines, via such technologies as direct injection and turbocharging and according to Rick Scheidt, US Chevrolet Vice President this has resulted in “performance and refinement drivers expect from Chevy in smaller engines that deliver the fuel efficiency they want.”
Efforts toward meeting stringent Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards is also likely a major reason why four-cylinder engines are becoming more popular in the US.
[Source: egm Car Tech]
The recent switch to “down-sizing” technologies like turbocharging and direct-injection have allowed automakers like Chevy, Ford and Hyundai to leap past Toyota in the fuel economy race in recent years. During that time Toyota’s focus has been on hybridizing its lineup of vehicles, a move that does allow for more significant fuel economy gains, but which is expensive; a cost that is then passed on to the consumer. Toyota’s hybrid plans also tend to mean a less impressive performance numbers.
Steering the industry over the past decade, Toyota now appears to be succumbing to the pressure of its rivals and will begin to roll out extensive use of turbocharging and direct injection in its vehicles. While not a massive leap, it will allow for significant short term fuel economy gains, with these technologies proving just how much potential is left in the internal combustion engine.
In an interview with Automotive News Toyota’s R&D boss Takeshi Uchiyamada commented that we’ll see this engine technology in everything from the Corolla to Camry, while the company will improve its variable valve timing and begin using start/stop systems to further improve technology.
The move should also help Toyota save significantly on R&D costs. With the automaker already boasting excellent fuel economy numbers, just switching to direct-injection will put Toyota back on top in the fuel economy race, without the need to design and build an entirely new generation of engines.
Moving to turbochargers and direct-injection also holds promise for performance enthusiasts. And with Toyota’s long history of turbocharged performance, perhaps a new generation of sports cars like the FR-S/FT-86 could make use of turbo DI engines in order to achieve impressive fuel economy and fun.
[Source: Automotive News via Motor Trend]
Mazda is betting that their new lineup of SKY direct injection gasoline and diesel engines will help raise the company’s fleet fuel economy by 30% by 2015.
Mazda, which has long refrained from hybrid cars, claims that the next generation 2015 Mazda3 with a SKY-G gasoline engine and a Sky-Drive 6-speed automatic will get 40 mpg on the highway, up from 33 mpg. The Mazda6 will get a SKY-D diesel engine that will get 43 mpg on the highway, a bump from 30 mpg on the current car.
While Mazda said that the first SKY-G powered car will arrive in 2011, they were tight-lipped about what car would receive it. Signs point to the next generation MX-5 as the most likely candidate.
Despite the investment in the SKY powertrains, Mazda said it would introduce a hybrid in the near future, with technology licensed from Toyota. “We have a plan to introduce [the technology] gradually, starting from simple devices,” Seita Kanai, director of r&d for Mazda Motor Corp. told Automotive News. ”The more complex a device is, the more costly it becomes.”
[Source: Automotive News]
Mercedes has just announced details of its new V6 and V8 engines with added power and a massive improvement in fuel economy. Most exciting is a new 4.7-liter twin-turbo V8 with 435-hp and 516 ft-lbs of torque. This engine is set to replace the current 5.5-liter naturally aspirated V8, adding 12 percent more power and 35 percent more torque. The new V8, featuring direct-injection technology, will also boast a 22 percent improvement in fuel economy.
The twin 4.7-liter powerplant will first appear in the CL-Class and S-Class.
Next up is a much needed replacement for the anemic and not-so fuel efficient 3.5-liter V6 engine. Also measuring in at 3.5-liters, the new engine may have the same displacement but is an all new motor with a 60 degree V versus the 90 degree angle on the old engine. It also gets direct-injection to bump power to 306-hp and 273 ft-lbs of torque – which is still shy of the sort of torque BMW is making in the 335i and short of the power Infiniti is getting in its 3.7-liter V6. Mercedes claims than in the S350 (not offered in the U.S.) fuel economy improvements will be as much as 24 percent.
GALLERY: Mercedes Direct-Injection 4.7L Twin-Turbo V8 and 3.5L V6
Starting this fall, the 2011 Buick Regal will be E85 capable, marking the first time a direct-injection turbo motor can run on biofuel.
The E85 turbo engine was originally intended for the new Saab 9-5, but with the Swedish luxury division out of GM’s hands, the engine needed a new home. The base 2.4L four-cylinder will be E85 capable as well. The turbo engine in particular is expected to eliminate the fuel economy discrepancy that occurs when running on E85. Motors running on ethanol tend to see a 15 percent drop in fuel economy, however GM expects the gap to narrow below 10 percent on the turbo engine, with virtually no discrepancy in the future.
Hyundai is all set to stir up the family sedan segment with the stylish, powerful and efficient 2011 Sonata. The latest in Hyundai’s new lineup of products, the Sonata gets a coupe-like shape reminiscent of the Volkswagen CC. And that’s a very big compliment to be sure. The car is one of just a few Hyundai products to be designed in the United States at the company’s California Design Center.
Under the hood, there’s a direct-injection version of Hyundai’s Theta II 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 198-hp (or 200-hp in the SE trim level with a dual-exhaust setup). Torque is rated at 186 ft-lbs. In total, that’s 25 more horsepower and 18 more ft-lbs of torque than the old 4-cylinder. In fact, with improved 4-cylinder performance and the fact that only 10 percent of previous generation Sonata buyers opted for the V6, Hyundai hasn’t announced any plans to offer a V6 model and probably won’t.
The car’s fuel-economy rating is set at 23/35 mpg (city/highway), which Hyundai says will make it the most fuel-efficient (non-hybrid) mid-size sedan on the marker. Although, to be truthful, the 2011 sonata, like its predecessor, is so roomy inside that it is technically classified as a full-size sedan.
The direct-injection powerlant isn’t the only reason for the improved fuel-economy, however, as the 2011 Sonata also gets a new six-speed automatic transmission (which will find it’s way into the Tucson, as well as the next Santa Fe and Azera). Not only does the extra gear help for improved highway fuel mileage but the unit weights 26 lbs less, is more compact and uses 62 fewer parts.
On top of all this, Hyundia says the high compression 2.4-liter engine will deliver full power on regular 87 octane pump gas.
A few vehicle highlights include trunk pulls for the rear seats to fold down and the option of heated rear seats. Hyundai is also eager to point out that despite the car’s slowing roofline it has the same amount of rear headroom as the previous generation car, which is more than any other car in its class except the Honda Accord.
Hyundai will offer the Sonata in three trim levels, GLS, SE (Sport) and Limited (luxury). SE models will get the dual-exhaust pipes with the 200-hp rating, as well as paddle shifters, tighter steering and larger sway bars to help deliver improved handling.
The 2011 Hyundai Sonata is set to go on sale in January. Pricing has not yet been released.
GALLERY: 2011 Hyundai Sonata
All future Hyundai products are likely to get direct injection technology, boosting both fuel economy and performance and allowing for smaller and lighter displacement engines to take the place of larger units.
The news comes from Hyundai Motor America’s top engineer John Juriga, who made the comments during a technical presentation at Hyundai’s North American Engineering facility in Michigan.
Juriga said the technology is likely to roll out across the product lineup over time, to V6 and even V8 engines. He likened it to the change from carburetors to fuel-injection and said that while new alternative-fuel engines will be coming, over the next 5 to 10 years the internal combustion engine will remain dominant and so there will be a focus on improving it.
When asked if future Hyundais will get a combination of direct injection and turbochargers, Juriga didn’t confirm anything but did say that the two technologies were, “made for each other.”
Hyundai has just announced its first direct-injection engine, a 200-hp 2.4-liter four-cylinder that gets 35-mpg highway and will debut on the new 2011 Sonata (above).
New DI engine to get 35-mpg highway
Hyundai Motor America has confirmed the introduction of the company’s first direct-injection gasoline engine will debut in the 2011 Sonata.
Called the 2.4 GDI Theta II, the engine will make 200-hp at 6300 rpm and 186 ft-lbs of torque at 4250 rpm in the SE model. Hyundai has also confirmed that despite the engine’s 11.3 compression ratio it will get full power on regular 87 octane gas. A GLS model will make slightly less power, with 198-hp on call.
In total, this is an increase of 25-hp and 18 ft-lbs of torque over the old 2.4-liter motor.
Along with DI technology, the GDI Theta II will also get a six-speed automatic transmission that is more compact, has 62 fewer moving parts and weighs about 20 lbs less.
The result is what Hyundai believes will be best-in-class fuel economy of 23 and 35 mpg.