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MEGATRENDS USA: “The ICE is up for the challenge”

Automotive Megatrends USA: A long and industrious future is ahead of the ICE

The challenges that powertrains face over the next decade and beyond were discussed at length during Automotive Megatrends USA. According to industry experts, looming CO2 regulations of 2020 and beyond continue to affect powertrain development, and have enabled several alternative powertrain architectures to grow in popularity.

Electric vehicles (EVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), and 48-Volt systems are all considered to be rising technologies that will become increasingly common.

Tim Johnson, Corning
Tim Johnson

That said, the internal combustion engine (ICE) is not ready to pass the baton, and will remain a central technology in the powertrain. Tim Johnson, Director of Emerging Technologies and Regulations, Corning, is certain that ICEs will be the dominating powertrain architecture for the next 15 years. When considering future emissions regulations, he says, “The ICE is up for the challenge. New engine designs can deliver up to a 30% lower CO2 compared to the best-in-class benchmark today.”

Johnson is confident that new engine architectures, such as the two-stroke opposed-piston, can ensure combustion engines have a firm future. Achates Power, a California-based powertrain developer, builds two-stroke opposed piston engines. In his presentation, John Koszewnik, Chief Technology Officer stated the two-stroke opposed-piston engine is a “game changing technology that is set to become an automotive megatrend.”

When asked if alternative engine architectures like EVs and hybrids pose a threat to the ICE, Karina, Morley, Commercial Director – Automotive, Ricardo, says “will see conventional combustion engines continuing to evolve no matter what happens with other powertrains.”

Like many other experts, she believes that several technologies will be present in the future. “48-Volt systems are definitely going to be key. They are an affordable technology, and also allow for improved performance,” she says. Looking towards 2025, costs will come down and EVs, hybrids and other powertrains will become cheaper and more enticing,” she adds.

That said Morley is adamant that the industry must continue to invest in ICEs: “The potential improvements, of around 30% fuel efficiency, are staring us in the face.  It is clear we must continue to pursue ICE development – it is an opportunity we must take.”

Michael Nash

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