A look at the latest generation of internal combustion engines

In an ever-increasing effort to reduce greenhouse gases, some of the world’s largest automakers have pledged to the phasing out of internal combustion engines over the next few decades. Volkswagen, for example, announced in 2018 that its latest generation of cars that will use combustion engines will be introduced in 2026, after which all their models will be based on the electric car platforms the company is developing.

Automakers do this because greenhouse gases impose a massive toxic burden on planet Earth that is no longer sustainable. That’s why they are looking very closely at alternative engines and fuels. With that in mind, let’s take a quick look at the latest 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 significantly reducing CO2 emissions. Several other groundbreaking changes make today’s ICEs far superior to their past iterations.

For example, fuel injection has dramatically reduced waste by precisely controlling the mixture of air and fuel while driving. Today, however, there are direct injection engines that burn fuel even more efficiently to further reduce waste. (Computers control these, too, to increase efficiency even further.) Variable valve timing is another modern upgrade you’ll find on current ICEs. This technology allows a vehicle’s ICE to vary valve timing based on vehicle speed while driving.

For example, you can find many of these advancements in Nissan QV engine. Named one of the “Top Ten Engines” of the year by Ward’s Communications, INC, 10 years in a row, the VQ has been used in a variety of vehicles. It has an aluminum block and heads and multipoint sequential fuel injection. Having an aluminum block engine can reduce the weight of a car’s ICE by more than 50%, significantly reducing vehicle weight while improving fuel efficiency. This award-winning engine also features exhaust timing and molybdenum-coated pistons to reduce friction, which can also increase energy efficiency.

The difference between ICE, BEV, PHEV and HEV

In 1859 mankind discovered something radically new and different, the Internal Combustion Engine or ICE. Over the next 160 years, internal combustion engines changed very little apart from the invention of diesel fuel in 1892. Today, however, as ICEs are being phased out, new vehicles with new power plants take their place. They include battery electric vehicle (BEV), plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), and hybrid electric vehicle (HEV). These three engines use electric motors, while two also use ICEs to generate power.

The increase in greenhouse gases has forced the hand of humanity and puts us in a position where drastic changes are needed. These changes unfortunately include the phasing out of internal combustion engines. Although necessary, this is again ironic considering that today’s ICEs are far superior to their predecessors. However, we should note that many in the auto industry think the ICE’s demise has been overblown. Either way, the coming years will be very interesting in the automotive industry.

Kevin A. Perras