MCE-5 VCRi: Pushing back the fuel consumption reduction limits

It meets emission reduction objectives
within the deadlines

MCE‑5 VCRi:High energy efficiency, short term availability, and great ability to break into the market

Objectives for CO2 emission reductions announced by most industrial countries are ambitious both in terms of target levels and calendars. When objectives are overly ambitious, they may remain wishful thinking or may only be reached long after the deadlines. When objectives are unrealistic, they may generate results that are contrary to those aimed at. New objectives generally require new technologies, while new technologies make new objectives possible.

After the Kyoto climate summit, the European
Automobile Manufacturers Association committed
to reducing the CO2 emissions of new vehicles

The Obama administration’s goal of bringing
the average fuel consumption of new cars
sold in the USA down to 35.5 mpg
by 2016 is extremely ambitious

French CO2 emission incentive-penalty
taxation measures are among the most
effective to promote the sales
of fuel-efficient cars

The development of Diesel created
gasoline surpluses that Europe is
currently exporting to the USA

The full hybrid is effective in reducing CO2 emissions
per kilometer for a small number of vehicles
but not those of overall automobile sales,
because it is too expensive

MCE‑5 VCRi: purely mechanical
production with low CO2 emissions

In this context, MCE‑5 VCRi technology should enable European and American CO2 emission reduction objectives to be met in the sought-after technical and economic conditions.

Is MCE‑5 VCRi necessary to reach these objectives? Yes, in the same way that we’ll need direct fuel injection, variable valve actuation and supercharging. Even when coordinating these multiple means, certain objectives will be hard to reach and the vehicles themselves may have to be redefined. Remember that in July 1998, pursuant to the Kyoto protocol, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association committed to decreasing the average CO2 emissions per kilometer of new cars sold in 2008 to 140 grams. This equated to a 22% reduction in CO2 emissions in 10 years. This objective was not reached and average CO2 emissions per kilometer only dropped from 179 grams in 1998 to 153.5 g in 2008, a decrease of 14.2%. During the same period, Diesel market share grew from 27% to 52.9%. We note that a non-negligible part of CO2 emission reductions for passenger cars was due to the increase in the market share of Diesel cars, which offer greater efficiency than gasoline cars. It noteworthy that total CO2 emissions for European road transport did not decrease during this period and in fact increased due to an increase in the total annual mileage driven by Europeans.

It is clearly difficult to reduce emissions. Indeed, if Europeans have not succeeded in reducing the CO2 emissions of their new cars by more than 1.56% per year in average between 1998 and 2008, how will they be able to reach the objective of 130 g of CO2/km by 2012, in only 4 more years, since this represents an average annual decrease of 2.27%? It’s almost impossible, as is the Obama administration’s goal to bring average fuel consumption of new cars sold in the USA down to 35.5 mpg by 2016. Of course, switching all vehicles to hybrid drive would allow the objective to be reached, but simple arithmetic isn't enough: if high energy efficiency cars are too expensive, they won’t sell, and if they don’t sell, average CO2 emissions won’t decrease. This is the main problem with a full-hybrid car: its high cost drastically limits its market share. One of the main advantages of MCE‑5 VCRi technology is that it massively reduces fuel consumption while only moderately increasing production costs.

Consequently, MCE‑5 VCRi technology will reinforce the credibility of certain objectives, and in exchange, these objectives will make the market for MCE‑5 VCRi even clearer. MCE‑5 VCRi’s reasonable cost price will preserve the economic balances of the automotive industry and also of its customers. For this reason, MCE‑5 VCRi is intended for the mass market: this last economic condition is indispensable to significantly reduce the average fuel consumption of new automobiles.

Remember that MCE‑5 VCRi is a gasoline engine with only a 3way catalytic converter, which is decisive from a strategic point of view. Let’s take an example: in Europe, by reducing the taxation on diesel with respect to gasoline, we favored Diesel engines, which reduced European CO2 emissions per kilometer. From this strict point of view, this approach was a reasonable one. However, if we look more closely, there were two negative effects: the development of Diesel created gasoline surpluses that Europe is currently exporting to the USA, and, today, Diesel engines are creating problems with regard to NO2 and particulates. The first consequence is that Europe is in fact farming out a part of its CO2 emissions to the Americans since we’re practically reasoning in “constant oil”. Hence, the global CO2 emission budget is not improved: the USA is burning excess European gasoline. The second consequence is that Europe now has to face the thorny problem of Diesel after treatment that must be controlled at an acceptable cost price, which will be extremely difficult.

The example of Diesel proves that some good ideas can carry with them heavy negative effects, and in some cases, can turn out to be bad ideas. Let’s take the case of electric cars: how can we calculate the real carbon footprint when we don’t know if the electricity has been produced by a coal-fired plant, a natural gas plant or a nuclear power plant? If we satisfy ourselves with simply measuring the car’s own emissions, we can encourage electricity generation systems that emit high levels of CO2 without taxing the vehicles responsible for these emissions. What is the overall carbon footprint of electric cars when taking into account the manufacturing of batteries, their recycling, and the installation of electricity generation and distribution infrastructures for road use?

Other than the fact that it is a gasoline engine, MCE‑5 VCRi has another advantage: it is based on standard mechanics. Hence, the manufacturing and end-of-life recycling of MCE‑5 VCRi concerns mechanical parts that have low CO2 emissions. The CO2 emissions caused by the manufacturing and recycling of a technology are generally well represented by its cost price and the MCE‑5 VCRi engine is not expensive to produce. Indeed, the cost price of an engine for the most part covers the CO2 emitted during manufacturing: the cost price conveys the economic activity attributed to manufacturing and this activity can be converted into CO2 emissions. On this point, it’s worth noting that the global carbon budget of a hybrid is particularly unfavorable.

In future, vehicle CO2 emissions will be calculated from well to tank and from tank to wheel. They will include those generated by the manufacturing, recycling and infrastructures required for these vehicles. This is only normal: the negative consequences of CO2 emissions have no boundaries. Certification cycles should also evolve to more faithfully represent a vehicle’s real emissions during its life cycle. Some strategies that are effective in reducing emissions during the certification driving cycle are much less in real driving conditions. For example, Start & Stop, which is an excellent strategy by the way, strongly reduces consumption during the NEDC (New European Driving Cycle) by eliminating consumption when the vehicle is stopped (the engine is stopped instead of idling). These gains do not necessarily occur during the vehicle’s real life since the effectiveness of Start & Stop really depends on driving conditions (stability and frequency of vehicle stopping), weather conditions (air conditioning and heating only work engine on) or on the real cycle (zero advantage on highways). Hence, though Start & Stop puts forward an 8% saving on fuel consumption on the NEDC, we would unfortunately not achieve an 8% reduction in effective CO2 emissions by equipping 100% of European cars with Start & Stop: this strategy only works if vehicles are stopped often enough.

Unlike this approach, MCE‑5 VCRi constantly delivers its advantages, or almost. The only operating points at which MCE5 VCRi does not add anything are those where its compression ratio is identical to fixed compression ratio engines, and these points are rare. However, the main objectives of MCE‑5 VCRi remain downsizing and downspeeding, and these strategies provide an almost constant advantage.

In conclusion, the MCE‑5 VCRi offers a significant decrease in vehicle CO2 emissions per km, with low CO2 emission levels during its manufacturing and end-of-life recycling. MCE‑5 VCRi also offers extra energy efficiency in a context where current technologies and strategies are progressively reaching their limits.

Thanks to its moderate cost price, the MCE‑5 VCRi is intended for the mass market with its key signature of reducing the average fuel consumption of new cars. MCE‑5 VCRi pollutant aftertreatment is performed with a simple 3-way catalytic converter, which is both economical and effective. MCE‑5 VCRi’s efficiency remains high regardless of the vehicle driving cycle. A last point: MCE‑5 VCRi could be mass produced as of 2016-2017 and reach high production volumes by 2020-2025. It is then that the most ambitious reduction objectives for automobile CO2 emissions are to be reached.