How will the cars of the future be powered?

Combustion Engine

At present, cars are achieving around 135g/km but the auto industry is hard at work to bring this figure down.

By 2020 they hope to improve motors to the extent where an average family vehicle will produce less than 90g/km and fuel efficiencies of over 300mpg!

So, what innovations are being researched by automakers and how will the cars of the future be powered? Here’s a few examples of the technology we can expect:

The most obvious perhaps is engines with variable compression ratios. Details are being close guarded, but in straightforward terms this means that an engine’s compression ratio will vary according to the demands placed on it, and this will undoubtedly mean leaner, greener combustion units.

Next up is a flywheel system that drives the rear wheels of a front wheel drive car. It’s genius really; the flywheel uses kinetic energy that would otherwise go to waste. It then releases it, just like and electric motor or battery would, but without the cost or weight involved.

Then there’s free-wheeling technology which is simplicity in itself. Some car-makers already use the technology, in part, where they fit cars with twin clutch auto gearboxes. The next generation of free-wheeling technology will kick in at low speeds, and the intention is to take that one step further so that the transmission can decouple, allowing the engine to simultaneously close-down when cruising at speed or travelling downhill.

Lastly, is the electric turbocharger which uses a powerful fan in the engine’s induction system – blowing air through the turbo whenever the lump decelerates. This in turn would spin the turbo fan up to speed and provide full boost as soon as you depress the throttle again.

Naturally, there will be more innovations as the industry boffins research new methods of propulsion – and these almost all relate to improving the efficiencies of the combustion engine – invented in an age when production of petroleum began and the dangers of burning fossil fuels weren’t even thought about.

The motor industry is indeed changing, as can be seen from the latest offerings from car producers, but the next five years is likely to see a boost in innovation, not to mention style and design.

What do you think?


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