Gasoline spark ignition engines: trends and emerging technologies

OEM strategies, technical analysis, supplier opportunities and future predictions in the gasoline engine sector

The near future and even the future further out still is (dominated by the internal) combustion engine, likely with added electrification and possibly powered by alternatives to fossil fuels Oliver Miersch-Wiemers, Director System and Advanced Engineering, Robert Bosch LLC

The internal combustion engine is still the critical competitive field for the automotive mass-market. Recent improvements that have been made in gasoline engines, and more still to come, will be the dominant technology reality that will determine competitive success in the automotive industry for the next decade and probably longer. And these improvements will add content to engines – 5-10 percent more expensive powertrains, maybe more, say over two thirds of respondents in a 2016 Autelligence survey of the future of powertrain.

Engine families such as Ford’s EcoBoost and Mazda’s SkyActiv have been technological and marketing successes, encouraging other carmakers to better exploit existing technologies. The world’s largest suppliers are also reacting. For example, Denso plans to develop technologies that will boost the thermal efficiency rates of internal combustion engines to 50 percent.

Key areas covered in report

  • OEM strategy: The major IC engine strategies of Daimler/Mercedes Benz, General Motors, Ford, FCA, Honda, Toyota, Hyundai/Kia, Mazda, Nissan, Volkswagen, BMW are covered in detail – where they are now, what technologies they’re working on, when they will be introduced
  • Regulation: Criteria emissions, fuel economy, fuel availability and affordability, fuel chemistry
  • Technology: The report is a guide to systematic improvements in gasoline engines, including the latest improvements in boost, variable displacement technology such as Active Fuel Management (GM), ACC (Mercedes-Benz) or VCM (Honda), advanced gasoline turbocharged direct injection (such as Ford’s GTDi or Daimler’s BlueDIRECT), Valve-event Modulation (VeM) and valve timing. The report also explores the innovations made possible through new engine architectures.
  • Strategic analysis of gasoline SI engine component suppliers: Benteler Automotive, BorgWarner, Bosch, Continental AG, Delphi, Denso International, Eaton, Federal Mogul, Honeywell, Kolbenschmidt Pierburg AG, Linamar, Mahle, Mitsubishi Electric Corp, Nemak, NGK, Schaeffler AG and Valeo are all covered
  • Future trends and predictions – regulation and fuel price volatility, regional preferences, technical trade-offs between emissons and fuel economy, how will China influence developements, the role of electrification and other technologies

Industry sees combustion technology improvements as critical

In January 2016 Autelligence surveyed several hundred industry executives on the significance of future automotive powertrain upgrades.  85% of respondents rated engine powertrain improvements as “important” or “very important” to meet future fuel economy regulations. Combustion technologies were rated far ahead of alternative approaches such as electrification or lightweighting.

Autelligence Automotive Powertrain Future survey, January 2016

Why should you buy this report?

  • This is a fast-moving field – there are a lot of new things to watch out for. IC engines are still the heart of the industry, even as they get more complex ands are augmented by other power sources. This report looks at the angles – what will drive the future – electrification, sensor technology, embedded hardware and software, testing and trust
  • Understand where Gasoline SI engine engineering is now, where it is likely to go, and how fast it is likely to move
  • Make sense of the tradeoffs and competing requirements for minimizing CO2 emissions or fuel economy versus criteria emissions. Which will become more important?
  • Assess current technology on offer and understand the companies delivering it
  • Learn where and how electrification will fit in to future powertrain strategy – electrification may be necessary, but is it also very expensive. Can ICE improve enough to continue alone?


  • Regular surveys of extensive database of interested parties and industry executives to keep in touch with the latest thinking from the front-line of practical applications and highlight challenges to established industry thinking as it emerges.
  • Team of researchers to search for major studies and thoughtful analysis of the key issues it examines across the academic and business press and general media.
  • Attending major conferences and events, with the aim to bring insights from industry practitioners ands players together and identify critical insights. We partner with the organisers of some key events.
  • Our experienced editorial team aims to find and synthesize a broad range of sources into a readable, accessible document that can serve as a foundation for further analysis to meet individual reader’s needs and a platform for the monitoring of ongoing developments.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Why gasoline technology matters

Chapter 2: 21st-century concerns and the basic gasoline SI engine

2.1 The quest for a meaningful test
2.2 What is being measured?
2.2.1 Testing the variables
2.2.2 Manipulating test cycles
2.2.3 Analysis of reports of bias in economy ratings
2.3 Testing practices in selected countries
2.4 Resolving the testing differences – WLTP and RDE
2.5 Customer desires and point of sale
2.6 Fuel economy trends – implications for consumers, OEMs and ICE development

Chapter 3: Gasoline SI engines basics

3.1 IC Engines are inherently inefficient
3.2 Analysing engine efficiency
3.3 Pollution control in the engine vs fuel economy
3.4 Out of the tailpipe – What about cleaner fuel?
3.4.1 Soot as particle mass and/or particle number

Chapter 4: Standards and regulatory mechanisms governing types of emissions and fuel economy

4.1 Criteria and GHG emissions
4.2 Fuel economy
4.3 Emissions and fuel economy targets
4.4 Fuel availability and affordability
4.5 Analysing the chemistry of fuel in relation to fuel economy

Chapter 5: Improving engine efficiency and performance

5.1 Boosting
5.1.1 Superchargers
5.1.2 Exhaust gas turbochargers
5.1.3 Electrification – turbocharger teams with superchargers
5.2 Engine management
5.3 Fuel alternatives – using an ICE engine to battery power hybrids

Chapter 6: Engine technology advances

6.1 Gasoline direct injection
6.2 Fuel injectors
6.3 Lean burn
6.4 Variable event modulation
6.4.1 Miller and Atkinson cycles
6.5 SI Gasoline valve basics
6.6 Phasing, timing, and lift management
6.7 Camless actuation
6.8 Displacement on demand by deactivating cylinders
6.9 Variable compression ratio engines

Chapter 7: Alternative engine architectures

Chapter 8: Trends and predictions – decisions in an age of uncertainty

Chapter 9: Major OEM engine strategies

9.1 Daimler/Mercedes Benz
9.2 General Motors
9.3 Ford
9.4 FCA
9.5 Honda
9.6 Toyota
9.7 Hyundai/Kia
9.8 Mazda
9.9 Nissan
9.10 Volkswagen Group
9.11 BMW
9.12 HEDGE and SwRI

Chapter 10: Strategic analysis of gasoline SI engine component suppliers

Benteler Automotive
Continental AG
Denso International
Federal Mogul
Kolbenschmidt Pierburg AG
Mitsubishi Electric Corp
Schaeffler AG

Appendix 1 – A note about units

Table of Figures

  • Figure 1: The need to harmonize conflicting demands on automakers and ICE designers is the challenge today
  • Figure 2: Proposed worldwide, harmonized test cycle as of 2013
  • Figure 3: Compared to other test cycles, such as proposed WLTP or US06, the NEDC is not representative of real world driving
  • Figure 4: Rolling, or chassis, dynamometers measuring emissions over test cycles
  • Figure 5: Phases in US FTP 75 dynamometer-based test cycles
  • Figure 6: The Japanese JC08 urban-based test cycle compared with the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC)
  • Figure 7: Portable emissions measurement systems (PEMS) will be a key element in RDE testing
  • Figure 8: Worldwide Retail Prices of Gasoline (US cents per litre) for 95 Octane
  • Figure 9: Motor vehicle production by country, May 2015
  • Figure 10: Engines are typically larger and more powerful in OECD countries, with little change world-wide since 2005
  • Figure 11: The Compound Challenge states that as costs rise non-linearly to achieve better fuel economy, the long term savings from reduced fuel purchases decreases
  • Figure 12: To improve ICE engine and powertrain at the least cost, automakers will concentrate on certain technologies, according to Michael Hartrick from FCA
  • Figure 13: Fuel economy is most often measured as L/100 km, however the European Union is increasingly using g/km CO as a unit of fuel economy
  • Figure 14: Most energy from fuel is used up in engine losses, illustrating why making more efficient engines is so important
  • Figure 15: Knock is ignition ahead of the smooth flame front
  • Figure 16: A typical gasoline SI ICE will have a fuel efficiency that varies with load (torque) and speed in RPM, as shown in this cartoon of a performance map
  • Figure 17: Two common cooled EGR system configurations, high pressure EGR and low pressure EGR ..21
  • Figure 18: Summary of regulations, timing of important worldwide criteria, and GHG emissions regulations
  • Figure 19: Fuel economy targets for passenger cars normalized to US CAFE test cycles by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT)
  • Figure 20: Fuel economy targets for light trucks normalized to US CAFE test cycles by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT)
  • Figure 21: Normalized standards for various regulatory fuel economy requirements and CO2 emissions from cars in selected countries, as developed by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT)
  • Figure 22: Normalized standards for various regulatory fuel economy requirements and CO emissions from trucks in selected countries, as developed by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT)
  • Figure 23: Relatively stable gasoline prices, inflation adjusted, are forecast
  • Figure 24: The Twin Vortex Series from Eaton includes a four-lobe rotor design with an advanced manufacturing process that reduces NVH over previous generations
  • Figure 25: Engine downsizing and downspeeding through boosting produces wider efficiency maps
  • Figure 26: Schematic diagram of how exhaust gas turbochargers work, with a cartoon of the turbine/compressor device
  • Figure 27: General characteristics of turbos based on their physical size
  • Figure 28: A BorgWarner regulated 2-stage turbocharger uses two different sizes of turbines and compressors to combine the best of both small and large turbos, through a sophisticated control system
  • Figure 29: Using vanes in a variable geometry turbo, Bosch Mahle regulates boost pressure to prevent overcharging the engine at higher engine speeds in its design of turbos used in Volkswagen gasoline and diesel engines
  • Figure 30: Turbocharger manufacturers have available a variety of proven, albeit complex, designs to improve low-end response, lag, and increase peak power
  • Figure 31: Continental advertised that its new aluminum housed turbocharger saved 2.65 pounds in its installation on the 2015 BMW MINI Hatchback
  • Figure 32: Computer controls provide engine makers with unprecedented ability to deliver efficient engines
  • Figure 33: Due to the exponential calibration complexity of engines, by 2010 25,000 separate parameters were needed to calibrate a single ICE ECU
  • Figure 34: Overview of experimental design and model-based ECU calibration process flow
  • Figure 35: Ford EcoBoost gasoline direct injection system with combustion chamber design and Bosch fuel injector system with 6 hole injector in a bowl-in-piston design
  • Figure 36: The new (left) and old (right) piston crowns of the General Motor’s Gen5 V8 shows the considerable amount of engineering required to adapt an engine for GDI
  • Figure 37: PFI engines in general will meet the more stringent Euro 6c PN requirements, whereas today’s second generation GDI were shown to have more difficulty as shown in the data above
  • Figure 38: Cutaway of a typical solenoid fuel injector and how it operates
  • Figure 39: Atkinson cycles will produce higher peak efficiencies in more a limited range than other engine architectures
  • Figure 40: By mapping the physical lift and timing of each valve over the two rotations of a crankshaft, engineers have developed a convenient way of understanding and communicating more complex forms of modifying valve lift and timing
  • Figure 41: Adjusting the valve lift diagram by shifting (advancing or retarding), or phasing, the timing of intake or exhaust or both is one of the simplest methods to accomplish a level of variable valve timing
  • Figure 42: Another variation on variable valve timing is to switch the profiles of the cams entirely to maximize a given quantity
  • Figure 43: Notional view of how Honda’s VTEC system switches between two, and only two, discrete intake valve profiles for an engine with two intake valves
  • Figure 44: Continuously variable valve lift mechanisms are used to optimize matching the load to the right intake requirements
  • Figure 45: A form of DVVL, the Fiat MultiAir, controls air through the intake valves instead of the throttle, with 5 specific modes
  • Figure 46: The ideal cycle for engine operation is shown in this diagram, with a V8 using only half its cylinders in cruise mode
  • Figure 47: This opposed piston, valve sleeve engine is an example of how technology from the past is being updated to enhance fuel efficiency
  • Figure 48: Note the vast differences in take rates for various engine technologies by region predicted by 2020
  • Figure 49: Developing ICE-only improvements is a low risk approach compared to advanced electrification
  • Figure 50: Mercedes-Benz A-Class drive system gasoline engine with CAMTRONIC valve lift adjustment device, a form of profile switching between two discrete cam profiles
  • Figure 51: Active fuel management enables many of the V8 engines in GMC Sierra pickups and Yukon SUVs to behave like a 4 cylinder engine when cruising under light load
  • Figure 52: Mazda’s 4-2-1 exhaust system reduces the effect of backpressure of exhaust through the exhaust manifold
  • Figure 53: The two gasoline engine architectures that VW will use as a basis for all worldwide gasoline powered cars. These plus a third diesel engine will comprise 95% of all engine sales in the future
  • Figure 54: The new BWM efficient dynamics engine family is planned around high levels of commonality between and within diesel and gasoline engines
  • Figure 55: SwRI’s D-EGR concept dedicates one cylinder of a GTDI engine to creating Syngas

Table of Tables

  • Table 1: Fuel economy improvement for select years
  • Table 2: Speculations on key developments: forecast and outlook
  • Table 3: Honeywell projections of annual turbocharger market
  • Table 4: Representative list of VCR technologies
  • Table 5: Opposed piston start-ups
  • Table 6: Mercedes Benz M270 engine specifications for as-installed in the A-Class line of vehicles
  • Table 7: Highlights of GM’s MY 2014 new SI gasoline engine offerings
  • Table 8: Ford EcoBoost engines and cars it is offered on
  • Table 9: Highlights for the near-future Honda VTEC TURBO engines, possibly as early as 2015
  • Table 10: Hyundai engines and example vehicles
  • Table 11: Summary of most notable of Nissan’s advanced engines and their applications
  • Table 12: Volkswagen Group’s major gasoline engine and variants for its strategy

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Author: Bruce Morey
Publisher: Autelligence
Published: September 2015
Pages: 131
Edition: 2nd
Format: PDF

Who is the report for?

Chief Executive Officers, Marketing Directors, Business and Sales Development executives, Product and Project management, Purchasing and Technical Directors that need a powerful third party perspective and overview of the trends and issues in their sector and the potential ramifications for their business.

Author of this report:
Bruce Morey

Bruce MoreyWith over twenty five years of experience in technology development, research, and management, Bruce Morey brings a unique perspective to looking at the future of automotive engineering.  Sixteen years in the defense industry exposed him to a number of forward-looking methodologies, including scenario and contingency planning.  Six years in automotive product development at Ford Motor Company gave him an inside look at the day-to-day challenges and pressures of delivering quality vehicles and engines that customers want to buy, at an affordable price to both customer and company.

Mr Morey has published articles have covered computer simulation in support of engine development, future fuels, fuel cell vehicles, manufacturing, automotive engineering and product development.  He is also the author of two books, Automotive 2030 North America and Future Automotive Fuels and Energy, both published by SAE International.

Mr. Morey earned both Bachelors and Masters degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan. Mr. Morey is a member of SAE International and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers.

About Autelligence

Autelligence is a leading provider of information to the automotive sector about the market and business implications of product, regulatory and technological developments. Over the last fifteen years Autelligence has supplied its insights to most of the leading vehicle makers and first and second tier suppliers. Autelligence staff based around the world conduct regular surveys and discussions with industry experts in Europe, Asia and North America on the key issues that will affect the industry in the coming decade.

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