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Monday, October 19, 2009

Will GDI kill HEV?

As things currently stand, gasoline hybrid electric vehicles ("HEV" as opposed ot plug-in hybrid vehicles, or "PHEV") cost approximately $3,000 more than an similarly equipped gasoline vehicle, although the actual hardware cost may actually be more. 

However, a gasoline direct injection (GDI) engine, with turbocharging, such as GM's Ecotec (Chevrolet Cobalt SS) or Ford's Ecoboost (Taurus SHO) costs only about $750 more than its naturally aspirated counterpart.

When you down-size from a power equivalent naturally aspirated engine, you gain about 20% in fuel economy by going to turbo direct injection.  The hybrid fuel economy improvement is typically around 40-50% EPA combined.

As GDI type engines become more common, consumers will have to choose between a system that offers half of the fuel economy benefit for one quarter the cost.  If gasoline continues to be affordable (say, sub-$4.00), and Congress doesn't enact large tax incentives for HEVs, I don't see large scale adoption of HEVs until their costs come down dramatically. 

I know that I, for one, would choose GDI over HEV in the current market.  GDI doesn't force you to sacrifice cargo space because of batteries, and doesn't make the car heavier.  It doesn't give you the strange feel of regenerative braking.  And it gives you lots of fun-to-drive torque very quickly.


Finer's protege said...

As an owner of a GDI vehicle (BMW 135i) I have to agree with you. The -35i, N54B30 engine, use Bosch's piezo injectors at the top of the cylinder head (unlike the Ford Taurus SHO motor which uses solenoid injectors on the side of the head).

BMW has developed a follow-on to the N54B30 engine, the N55B30 which incorporates Valvetronic (variable valve lift) for throttle-less operation after start-up - that's about a 9% improvement in mileage in addition to the GDI savings.

What's needed now is for engines in the 1.3 to 1.5 liter sizes with GDI, variable lift, etc, that are capable of replacing V6 engines in mid-size sedans,

Once you break the 35 MPG barrier for highway mileage, who would want a hybrid then? (Especially a plug-in like the Volt for instance. :-)

Arden Dulou said...

I agree. I would love to have a Diesel Turbo Jetta. With the dollar falling, gas prices will continue to rise. I am not a guy who will buy based on new tech, but cost analysis (ok, my G8 might violate that) would rule. The Fusion Hybrid or Jetta turbo diesel are great low cost cars with really good gas mileage.

The issue I have with the Volt is it is sold as a Chevy. This should have been a Buick and charged like it. Considering we bailed out GM, we should be insulted they sell a car that they loose money on and will for another 5+ years.