Ford of Europe Exec Highlights Need for Near-Term, Volume Solutions to Reduce Automotive CO2: Efficient Powertrains and Biofuels
Speaking at the Automotive News Europe New Powertrain Technologies Conference, Lewis Booth, Executive Vice President, Ford of Europe and Premier Automotive Group, called global warming “one of the biggest challenges facing our planet” and said that it is also one of the biggest challenges facing the car industry today.
Although the most efficient means of reduction would be to treat all CO2 molecules equally, and then create incentives and disincentives for the carbon intensity of human activities, he noted, this will take too long.
The urgency of the challenge requires us to work within our sector; but the scale of the challenge also requires an integrated response if we are to maxim ise the opportunities to reduce CO2. In our sector that means a partnership between the motor industry, fuel suppliers, government and consumers.
As I’ve said, the challenge of global warming requires a broad and integrated response from many sectors. But let’s now focus on what we in the auto industry can do. We should recognize that the customer will choose the solutions that best meet their needs. We do not exist in a command economy and it won’t be the European Union, national governments, nor even OEMs that make the final decision. It will be our customers.
So we have to ensure that any solutions are acceptable for the customer. And first and foremost for the majority of customers, this means making sure that solutions are affordable. We also must recognize that iconic solutions do not address the overall CO2 problem. A few expensive hybrid cars with limited customer uptake concentrated in a few metropolitan areas is, quite frankly, no answer. That’s a luxury neither we nor the environment can afford.
We need volume solutions that can be rapidly adopted. This remains Ford’s thinking when it comes to CO2 reduction. Our aim is to bring environmental motoring into the mainstream and our product strategy firmly supports this goal.
Meeting the CO2 challenge means moving ahead with a range of technologies simultaneously, Booth said.
In the short-term, that means a focus on improved engine technology, with a shift somewhat from diesels to more fuel-efficient, advanced gasoline engines. Ford’s coming generation of gasoline engines will feature, selectively, direct high-pressure injection; efficient turbocharging; advanced valve actuation; and stop-start technology, with re-start effected through fuel injection. These advanced gasoline engines will offer CO2 levels comparable to diesels.
The power and efficiency of these new generation petrol engines will mean we can downsize our engine families. Tomorrow’s smaller, advanced petrol engines will deliver equivalent power to today’s conventional petrol engines, but with significantly improved fuel economy and CO2 emissions. We believe we can see fuel economy and CO2 savings of around 20 percent through the use of this technology, and we consider that these new, advanced petrol engines will represent a completely new family of powertrain technology.
Booth estimated that in five years, the advanced gasoline engines will account for about one-third of all European sales, the other two-thirds being diesel engines and existing, more conventional, gasoline engines “which are likely to find their place as entry level derivatives.”
On the diesel side, Ford plans to launch three new engines in the next few years with further CO2 improvements of 5-10%, “probably more with the addition of additional powertrain technologies, such as the Belt-Integrated Starter Generator system.” The challenge for diesel will be controlling increasingly stringent tailpipe emissions standards without eroding the affordability of the platform.
While acknowledging the complementary role of biofuels, Booth said that it seems certain that in most markets, biofuels will not entirely displace fossil fuels.
At Ford we continue to work with partners, such as BP, to explore how we can get the most out of bio-fuels and reap their CO2 benefit. We look forward to advanced, second-generation bio-fuels which can be used in the existing car fleet without special modification. Future bio-fuels will resolve many of the sustainability questions by using feed stocks which can be grown non-intensively on marginal land. But we recognize that these fuels are unlikely to be commercially-available for some time.
Nevertheless, just having the amount of biofuels targeted in the EU Biofuels Directive could reduce a CO2 saving equivalent to 20g/km, he said.
As to hybrids, Booth said he did not expect wide-spread uptake of full hybrid systems, and said that plug-ins, while conceptually attractive, still are not a truly viable proposition due to battery limitations.
Rather than full hybrids in Europe, we expect to see the widespread adoption of component parts of hybrid technologies. For example, stop-start systems and regenerative braking will provide a cost-effective way of better combating CO2.
Although Ford continues investing in hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, it is also focused on the hydrogen internal combustion engine. But, Booth said, “we believe that the hydrogen economy is a much longer term proposition.”
Let me repeat, we believe that the best way we can contribute to the global priority of stabilizing concentrations of CO2 in the immediate future is through more efficient powertrain technologies, plus an increasing contribution from biofuels as these fuels become more widely available and even more CO2-efficient on a well-to-wheel basis. This is where we need to focus our powertrain imagination, ingenuity, and investment in the near term.
Other factors of importance that Booth highlighted include reducing vehicle weight, advanced transmissions, and technologies to improve driver behaviour, such as driver information systems and selectable driving modes that will allow the driver to optimize the operation of the vehicle to maximize the benefits of the fuel economy technologies.
For policy makers, Booth urged harmonization of standards across the different markets. He also urged a focus on the outcome, not the technical solution.
Government should not try to second-guess the motor or fuel industries as to specific technical solutions or customer preferences. For government to promote one technology over another would lead to market distortion and could stifle both innovation and customer acceptance.
...Several countries have tax incentives for specific technologies, regardless of CO2 performance. For example, a hybrid vehicle with above average CO2 emissions in Sweden, Greece and Ireland receives substantial tax breaks, whilst non-hybrid vehicles but with lower CO2 emissions do not.
Finally, all of this comes down to what the consumer and we as an industry can afford. Meeting the challenge of climate change is going to require a great deal of investment. To innovate on such a broad front as I have outlined today is inevitably expensive; and this at a time when our industry has never been so competitive.
This is why I am convinced that within our industry we need to explore new ways of working together for the benefit of our planet, our customers and, indeed, our shareholders. We all need to adopt a mindset change and put environmental concerns at the top of our agenda. The size of the challenge requires all stakeholders to work together like never before.
Full text of Booth speech