Downsizing automotive engine and maximising power output with best of class fuel economy while complying to the upcoming BSVI emission norms will be a Game changer for the Indian automotive industry.
As mentioned by Nissan Motors in one of their releases which shows Nissan's engine pictured with Nismo President, Shoichi Miyatani in his hands looks like witchcraft but all the same a factual reality clearly indicates what automobile makers are gunning for.
From larger perspective, one of the key Automotive Megatrend is downsizing and Lightweighting automobile engines and prime movers, without compromising their performance, fuel economy and emission compliance in any way. Most manufacturers have been working on new design concepts, use of alternate materials and individual engine components to downsize and lightweight the same in order to align the same with the upcoming and many futuristic automobile concepts like connectivity, autonomous driver assistance, semi and fully hybrids, reducing carbon footprint, enhanced safety, comfort and others.
A major thrust to downsizing automobile engines also came from Formula 1 racing in 2014, wherein they reduced the engine size from V8 to V6 and also capped the investment for developing the new engines. However, owing to sporting reasons, there are possibilities of rolling back this decision in future. In any event, the concept is here to stay.
All auto majors present in India are on track to develop their own versions of downsized engines for their entire product range starting from entry level passenger cars and two wheelers to the largest of trucks and buses manufactured by them. Going forward, this will be a game changer for the entire automotive industry in India.
WHAT IS ENGINE DOWNSIZING?
Downsizing an engine has nothing to do with its performance. Simply, it is a method to reduce its weight to the minimum possible and achieve a best-of-breed power-to-weight ratio and make it more efficient. In India, RTO regulations classify automobile internal combustion engines on the basis of their total air displacement volume per cycle in either cubic centimetres (cc) or litres (Lt) and later by the type of fuel used and other automobile specifications. Hence, to begin with, it is most significant to reduce the air displacement of an engine and the work on other aspects to improve its overall performance. It would be appropriate to mention that an engine is one of the heaviest aggregates of an automobile, especially passenger vehicles.
Some of the most commonly applied principles for downsizing an automotive engine are highlighted below, for reference:
CHALLENGES IN DOWNSIZING
A set of challenges awaits the industry more so for the auto component suppliers because they are burdened with the onus of supplying a diverse range of components to their respective OEMs, in large quantities to meet the market demand and at the same time, manage their business performance. They can be broadly classified, financial investment, technology adoption, adaptive production management, diverse skill sets and personnel or industrial relations.
DISRUPTIONS BY ELECTRIC VEHICLE REVOLUTION
Some market reports indicate that the expected life span of fossil fuelled prime movers is limited as they expect electric vehicles to take over in a short time and relate the same to experimental developments in advanced countries. Many industry majors like Siemens for instance, are reported to be making rapid progress in developing flash charged heavy transportation vehicles in a matter of seconds or development of smart roads which provide flash charge as the vehicles move on the road. On the other hand, spearheaded by Tesla, Toyota, Mahindra & Mahindra and such companies announcing electric mobility initiatives appears to be serious to the economy and a sense of investing in developing these new generation IC engines. However, in the current context of BS-VI emissions being implemented by 2020 in India, there is no option for the industry but to go ahead whatever is necessary, as of today. On the flip side, for the success of electric mobility, India and the rest of the world have to develop massive infrastructure with new facilities. This is a time consuming proposition and till such time the same is place, the current engines will continue to power the vehicles. There again it may take a couple of decades to happen. Meanwhile, the users can derive the benefits of downsizing.
As published by SIAM, India produced a total of 23.588 million vehicles in all categories, during the period January to December 2015. Further, India is on track in line with AMP 2016-26 jointly released by SIAM, ACMA and Department of Heavy Industries last year. On a closer look, the envisaged projections are mind boggling but very achievable in light of our government’s relentless drive to create a better economy in the country, accelerate infrastructure developments, faster road building, investment-backed rural development and so on. Above all, this year the monsoon looks good and will contribute to rural buying of automobiles in which engine downsizing is expected to play a major role.
AUXILIARY UNITS REQUIRED TO SUPPORT THE PERFORMANCE OF DOWNSIZE CONCEPTS