Automakers have showcased some remarkable forward thinking in the past couple weeks. Ford offered a peek at a new 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder EcoBlue diesel designed for Europe, and Volkswagen released images of a 1.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine designed to run on the Miller cycle. Finally, Chinese manufacturer Qoros unveiled a camless engine using the same FreeValve technology that Koenigsegg has touted in the past.
All three reveals are more confirmation that the internal combustion engine remains will be around for decades to come and that automakers are gearing up for stricter fuel economy and pollution standards around the world. Small engines and advanced technologies are the keys to achieving such lofty requirements. Automakers are also utilizing plenty of boost to make up the power losses due to lower displacements. And they’re picking up small improvements, much the way race teams do, by cutting parasitic losses wherever possible and lowering weight.
The Ford EcoBlue utilizes an offset crank (.39-inch or 10 mm) to help reduce piston side-loading, which cuts down on parasitic losses. Engineers also came up with a unique porting system in the inlet manifold that generates a clockwise airflow pattern for two cylinders and a mirror-image reverse pattern for the other two cylinders. The object is to evenly distribute air to the cylinders before fuel is injected. The fuel system is also upgraded to allow for up to six injections per cycle. There’s also a redesigned turbocharger that spins up to 240,000 rpm.
Max torque expectations are in the 250 lb-ft range at just 1,250 rpm, although the engine will be offered in up to four different versions up to 237 horsepower. It’s designed mostly for the Transit; however, a smaller 1.5-liter model is also coming for European cars.
We’ve seen the FreeValve technology before. A sister company to hypercar manufacturer Koenigsegg, FreeValve partnered with Qoros Auto to continue development on a camless powerplant for consumer use. Right now all we’ve seen are working prototypes with the pneumatic hydraulic electric actuated valves. Qoros will call its engines QamFree.
The VW EA211 turbo engine may help draw attention away from the automaker’s diesel mess. This new gas engine uses variable-geometry turboharging–which is rare in mass-market gas engines–, advanced direct injection and a high 12.5:1 compression ratio. It can also deactivate two cylinders for economy cruising. But the major effort is adapting aspects of the Miller cycle, which involves manipulating the intake valve opening and closing.
As noted, these engines are designed for foreign markets but some of the technology can always creep into domestic powerplants.