The popularity of fuel-efficient, four-cylinder engines are on the rise with 55.8 percent of new vehicles sold or leased in the U.S. during the first half of 2013 equipped with smaller engines.
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As fuel prices continue to rise, fuel economy in our cars becomes a bigger issue on a daily basis. Volvo announced at the Chicago Auto Show that they are working towards a line-up of automobiles that utilize nothing but four cylinder engines.
Within five years, U.S. president and chief executive officer of Volvo John Maloney says that every new Volvo will come outfitted with a four cylinder engine as “it just makes sense.” Thanks to turbochargers and high pressure fuel injection systems, among other new technologies, smaller displacement engines are constantly becoming more and more powerful leaving no use for larger motors.
One good example of this cylinder downsize strategy at work is Ford’s Ecoboost engines which have been quite successful as they offer equivalent power to competitors motors with less cylinders.
The move to four cylinders will also streamline the companies manufacturing and ordering operations, saving the company money in the long run.
The facility, which will be located in Pune, close to existing Tata operations, will produce modular four-cylinder engines and is said to be a virtual ‘carbon copy’ of the company’s new engine plant being set up in the West Midlands, UK.
Both facilities have been conceived so that Jaguar Land Rover can replace, as quickly as possible the four-cylinder gasoline and turbo diesel engines it currently sources from Ford Motor Company, which have proven to be relatively expensive.
Jaguar says that work on the new Indian plant won’t begin until the West Midlands operation is fully up and running, but said that once operations are in full swing; both plants together will have capacity to produce as many as 500,000 engines per year, which will help satisfy growing demand; particularly in China where Jaguar Land Rover already has a local assembly operation.
As for Jaguar’s other engines, namely it’s V-6 and V-8 gas and diesel units, these will continue to be sourced from Ford at Dagenham, Essex, UK, at least for the time being.
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]
In a memo that went out to dealers today, Honda stated that it will be adding a four-cylinder version of its slow selling Crosstour this year, possibly by the end of summer as a 2012 model.
Although there were few specifics released in the memo, another source reported that the four-banger powered Crosstour will probably come in front-drive form only (at least initially) and likely be restricted to more basic trim levels (possibly a DX, LX and EX) as well as corresponding lower MSRP to help bolster sales.
Given that the CR-V, which is slated to be extensively redesigned for the 2012 model year is due to receive an updated driveline, it will be interesting to see if this and the Crosstour will share four-cylinder engines – the CR-V’s new motor is rumored to be relatively large for such a configuration, possibly as big as 2.6 or even 2.7-liters.