Rising fuel costs coupled with a focus on emission control have resulted in more and more large sedans being powered by small engines that are being tweaked to deliver as much as their larger counterparts can.
A one-litre engine, with the equivalent power of a 1.6-litre petrol engine, will motor the soon-to-be-launched Ford's sports utility vehicle called EcoSport.
Then, Maurti's 1.2-litre diesel engines that reside in the super-compact sedan Dzire are also powering the recently-launched multi-purpose vehicle Ertiga. Toyota, too, is sharing its 1.4-litre diesel power train between the super-compact Etios and premium sedan Corolla. Similarly, Renault's sedan Fluence and small car Pulse share the same diesel engine with a displacement of 1461 cc.
"The key driver is fuel economy; Ford has done it (with a one-litre engine), by delivering 20 per cent improvement over a 1.6-litre engine in terms of fuel economy and performance - in terms of torque and power," said Michael Boneham, president & MD of Ford India.
"The bigger engines are being replaced by smaller engines with a turbocharger, which gives the power of a larger engine without compromising on fuel efficiency," added IV Rao, India managing executive officer (engineering), Maruti Suzuki.
So, although the engine under the hoods of the Ertiga and the Dzire are the same, the difference is the turbo power: the Dzire with the same 1.2-litre engine gives 75PS, or hose power, while the same engine tweaked gives a 90PS for the Ertiga as well as the SX4, Maruti's mid-size sedan.
To be sure, diesel turbochargers have been around for decades, but it is only of late that there has been an evolution in turbochargers in petrol engines. It is this evolution that will drive the shift towards smaller engines, explained NP Thimmaih, former managing director of Honeywell Turbo Technologies.
"The penetration of turbochargers is currently at about 25% for both petrol and diesel globally; we expect it to touch 70 per cent by 2020 and it is the adoption of gasoline turbochargers that will drive this penetration," added Thimmaih.
Hormazd Sorabjee, editor, Autocar India, explains that more sophisticated turbo charging and engine management systems have allowed smaller engines to develop as much power and torque as larger ones. The trend is catching on in India as fuel economy plays a crucial role.However, manufacturers say that customer perception needs to change as there is a feeling that smaller engines in larger vehicles make it underpowered. The issue here is that a turbocharger gets activated at a particular optimum and that may prove to be a chicken-and-egg situation as Indian drivers tend to be soft on the accelerator in their endeavour to save fuel. Which, in turn, means that the turbo charger does not kick in.
The acceptance is coming in. Maruti Suzuki's Ertiga despite having a smaller power plant has managed to get over 32,000 bookings in a month and half. With emergence of such advanced technology, experts say more than half of the cars in India will be powered with capacity of 1.2 litre and below by 2020.
Smaller engine will help reduce the price tag on cars and also lower emission levels. Future emission requirement and CO2 compliance will require using new technologies like gasoline direct injections, said VG Ramakrishnan, senior director, automotive practice, Frost and Sullivan.
Source: Automobile Industry India, Auto Industry News, Automotive Industry, Automobile Market | Industry News - Economic Times