In an ever-increasing effort to reduce greenhouse gases, some of the world’s biggest automobile manufacturers have committed to phasing out the internal combustion engines in the next few decades. Volkswagen, for example, announced in 2018 that their last generation of cars that will use combustion engines will be introduced in 2026, after which all of their models will be based on the electric car platforms the company is developing.
Auto manufacturers are doing this because greenhouse gases are putting a massive, toxic burden on planet Earth, which is no longer sustainable. For that reason, they are looking very closely at alternative engines and alternative fuels. With that in mind, we will take a quick look at the last generation of internal combustion engines.
Current Internal Combustion Engines are Far Superior
Ironically, manufacturers are phasing out internal combustion engines when they’ve never been better. Today’s internal combustion engines take full advantage of current technology to produce excellent power and torque while also reducing CO2 emissions drastically. Several other revolutionary changes make today’s ICEs far superior to their past iterations.
For example, fuel injection drastically minimized waste by precisely controlling the air and fuel mixture when driving. Today, however, there are direct injection engines that burn fuel even more efficiently to reduce waste further. (Computers also control them to increase efficiency even further.) Variable valve timing is another modern upgrade you’ll find on current ICEs. This tech enables a vehicle’s ICE to vary the valve timing based on the vehicle’s speed while driving.
For example, you can find many of these advancements in Nissan’s VQ engine. Named one of the year’s “Ten Best Engines” by Ward’s Communications, INC, 10 years in a row, the VQ has seen service in various vehicles. It has an aluminum block and heads and sequential, multi-point fuel injection. Having an aluminum block engine can reduce the weight of a car’s ICE by upwards of 50%, lowering the vehicle’s weight substantially while improving fuel efficiency. This award-winning engine also features exhaust timing and molybdenum-coated pistons for lower friction, which can also increase fuel efficiency.
The Difference between ICE, BEV, PHEV, and HEV
In 1859 humankind was introduced to something radically new and different, the internal combustion engine or ICE. Over the subsequent 160+ years, internal combustion engines changed very little besides the invention of diesel fuel in 1892. Today, however, as ICEs are being phased out, new vehicles with new power plants are taking their place. They include the Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV), the Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV), and the Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV). All three of these engines use electric motors, while two also use ICEs to produce power.
Increasing greenhouse gasses have forced humanity’s hand and put us in a position where drastic changes are needed. These changes, unfortunately, include phasing out internal combustion engines. Although needed, it is again ironic when you consider that today’s ICEs are far superior to their predecessors. However, we must note that many in the auto industry believe that the ICE’s demise has been overstated. Whatever the case might be, the coming years will be very interesting in the auto industry.