In a new report, Frost & Sullivan, a global research and consulting firm, forecasts that the share of gasoline engines in European new passenger car sales will drop to 37.1% by 2015 from more than 53% in 2004. The firm had also earlier forecast that all Euopean automakers are likely to hybridize their vehicles to some degree—micro, mild and full—by the end of the decade (earlier post).
But as European emissions regulations grow increasingly stringent, advanced engine technology combined with hybridization may keep gasoline engines competitive with diesels, according to the analysis.
Electronic engine management technologies control engine parameters for best emissions control, fuel consumption, and performance, while air/fuel systems optimize an engine’s “breathing.” Gasoline-electric hybrid technologies can save fuel in urban driving cycles, making gasoline engine-powered vehicles more competitive than diesel-powered vehicles in terms of efficiency.—Veerender Kaul, Frost & Sullivan research manager
The European Union (EU) is responsible for around 24% of industrialized countries’ anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases. Following the Kyoto Protocol, the European automotive industry—represented by the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA)—signed a voluntary agreement with the EU in 1998 to reduce CO2 emissions from passenger cars by 25% by 2008.
Apart from meeting such emission regulations, which are non-negotiable, automakers are also needed to tackle issues such as reducing fuel consumption; decreasing manufacturing costs; controlling warranty and maintenance costs; maximizing reliability and durability; increasing horsepower and torque; and diminishing noise, vibration and harshness.
Advanced engine technologies help manufacturers meet these targets. For instance, certain valvetrain technologies can reduce emissions and fuel consumption even while boosting performance. Meanwhile, turbochargers and superchargers can increase or maintain power output while decreasing fuel use through downsized engines.
Till date, it has been cheaper for most automakers to increase sale of diesel engines than to offer more fuel-efficient gasoline engines. However, if diesel engines become more expensive due to emissions equipment, as diesel engines emit less carbon dioxide, and greenhouse gas, gasoline engines may become more competitive, especially in smaller vehicles, as they are less able to take the incremental costs of advanced diesels.—Veerender Kaul