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COMMENT: OEMs, suppliers and regulators focus on emissions

BY MARTIN KAHL. The European Parliament has approved plans to set tighter CO2 emission limits for light commercial vehicles. The draft law, which also calls for electronic speed limiters for vans, sets the emissions target at 147g CO2/km by 2020. This is significantly below the current 203g/km, and has been criticised by Germany’s VDA for being “ambitious”. This highlights an interesting divide between OEMs and suppliers: CLEPA’s Chief Executive, Jean-Marc Gales, for example, believes 147g/km is achievable with existing technologies.

The European Parliament has approved plans to set tighter CO2 emission limits for light commercial vehicles. The draft law, which also calls for electronic speed limiters for vans, sets the emissions target at 147g CO2/km by 2020. This is significantly below the current 203g/km, and has been criticised by Germany’s VDA for being “ambitious”. This highlights an interesting divide between OEMs and suppliers: CLEPA’s Chief Executive, Jean-Marc Gales, for example, believes 147g/km is achievable with existing technologies.

Reduction of fuel consumption and emissions lies at the heart of the new Volvo Engine Architecture (VEA), the first of which – the four-cylinder family – has gone into production at its Skövde engine plant. Volvo says the new, smaller engines deliver higher performance than current six-cylinder units, with lower fuel consumption than its current generation of four-cylinder units. Of as much significance as the engines’ improved performance is the fact that this marks Volvo’s powertrain independence from Ford, from which it has until now sourced engine technology.

Of as much significance as the engines’ improved performance is the fact that this marks Volvo’s powertrain independence from Ford, from which it has until now sourced engine technology

Ford is heavily promoting its EcoBoost engine technology, but the EcoBoost name hit the headlines recently for the wrong reasons when it became the subject of two lawsuits focusing on the performance of the six-cylinder EcoBoost unit. Unlike earlier claims against OEMs questioning published fuel economy, the issue here is not fuel economy, but incidences of shuddering and loss of power. As Ford looks to increase EcoBoost penetration, offering it on up to 80% of its nameplates by the end of this year, it will no doubt treat with great caution any question of quality.

Another former Ford company, Aston Martin, is at the centre of engine story, but this time to do with an innovative dual-fuel technology called Hybrid Hydrogen, developed by Alset Global. This system enables an appropriately-equipped car to power its existing internal combustion engine on hydrogen only, or gasoline only, or a mix of the two. It may sound expensive, but Alset is targeting a premium of as little as 10% over the current ICE equivalent’s price. Naturally, this does not address the installation cost of an appropriate hydrogen refuelling network, but it does help to avoid the cost of developing an exclusively alternative fuel or battery electric powertrain.

Although Ferrari has announced that it would never produce an electric vehicle, this unsurprising statement was accompanied by the more interesting news that the will focus its R&D efforts on emissions reduction

On the subject of infrastructure installation, Bosch has joined the campaign to promote EV charging, by unveiling a cut-price domestic EV charger. The new Power Max charger, at just US$450 plus installation, is half the price of most other chargers.

Although Ferrari has announced that it would never produce an electric vehicle, this unsurprising statement was accompanied by the more interesting news that the OEM will focus its R&D efforts on emissions reduction. The company has cut its vehicle emissions by 40% in the past five years, yet horsepower has increased by 100hp.

As Ford’s Dr Andreas Schamel and Schaeffler’s Robert Plank both note, there is much that can still be done to improve the emissions, fuel consumption and performance of the ICE.


Martin Kahl is Editor, Automotive World.

The AutomotiveWorld.com Comment column is open to automotive industry decision makers and influencers. If you would like to contribute a Comment article, please contact editorial@automotiveworld.com.

Download a copy of Automotive World’s report on the outlook for the light vehicle ICE here.

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