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

It’s an assurance for the future

MCE‑5 VCRi: Applying the right strategies with the right technology at the right time

The automotive industry’s current difficulties stem from the economic and financial crisis, and from high oil prices since 2008. As of 2012, diverse penalties and fines indexed on average CO2 emissions will further eat into the profitability of carmakers. These new constraints will be combined with pollutant emission standards, which grow more stringent with each new generation. This regulatory pressure will force carmakers to innovate and adapt to a world where increasingly scarce energy, climatic disturbances and the deterioration of the environment are all strategic stakes that can jeopardize the security and economic equilibrium of our societies. Though they are hard to accept, these regulations are likely to ensure the sustainability of the automotive industry in a rapidly changing world.

The automobile industry is under high pressure,
be it for economic, regulatory, or energy reasons

Pollutant emission regulations are necessary
even though they are constraining

Society as a whole could reorganize itself to limit
individual transport, gradually making the car
something used when strictly needed

Gasoline engines have been dramatically
improved over the last years (EP6 PSA - BMW)

The return to growth should be synonymous with a recovery for the automotive industry. However, there exists a risk that western societies will progressively reduce their automobile use. People could rethink their dependence on a means of transport that bleeds their budget, contributes to global warming and rests on an oil resource they fear will become increasingly scarce and much more costly. Society as a whole could reorganize itself to limit individual transport, gradually making the car something used when strictly needed. If this were the case, the era of cars for fun, passion and pleasure would be over. According to this scenario, many carmakers will see their business and turnover drop, while others will simply disappear.

To avoid this, the automotive industry must develop cars that are more attractive and more appealing. Cars of the future should have greater energy efficiency while maintaining or even increasing their performance levels. They must remain affordable and impose few constraints on users. The race for innovation to achieve these results is on, and the losers will see their profitability drop and will give up market share to carmakers whose cars are better positioned. The engine will be at the heart of the race for innovation.

Though not innovating is suicidal, innovating entails many technological, industrial and financial risks. To limit these risks, it will be necessary to work fast but especially to choose the most effective paths. For example, certain exotic paths such as electric drive trains or fuel cells will not have significant markets for several decades. Even though it is useful to explore these paths in parallel, they are not priorities. What is a priority, however, is to quickly find solutions for the core of the market for at least the next 20 to 30 years: the gasoline engine. A carmaker that inordinately wagers on electric cars while neglecting gasoline engines may have disappeared by the time electric cars take off. In this case, their efforts will have been in vain due to a lack of strategic vision. There are many energy, structural, industrial and even cultural reasons for which gasoline will continue to power cars for many years to come. To ensure its sustainability and to give ourselves the time and the means required to enter into the post-oil era, the automotive industry needs to focus on drastically improving the gasoline engine.

The short-term survival of many carmakers depends on diverse strategic and economic restructuring programs that refocus their business on products that better fit their market. In the medium term, for at least 20 years, the progress made on gasoline engines will be decisive. The long term may depend on the results of research into the ways of producing and storing electricity, or different ways of producing hydrocarbons while limiting their environmental impact. In the latter case, the IC engine will continue to play a decisive role for some time.

Gasoline engines have been dramatically improved over the last years: today’s engines are much more efficient and cleaner than those produced 10 to 20 years ago. The problem is that despite direct gasoline injection coupled with supercharging using turbocompressors, the progress made remains insufficient. To go even farther, we need new technological leaps forward. This is where the variable compression ratio (VCR) comes into play. VCR is the most effective technological leap forward in that it acts like a booster for all strategies applied to gasoline engines, and as such, it should be among the top priorities.

To serve this objective, MCE‑5 VCRi offers excellent functional characteristics that have never been equaled on any other VCR engine. MCE‑5 VCRi proposes accurate and rapid cylinder-to-cylinder compression ratio control over a very wide range, without any alteration in the piston motion or the geometry of the combustion chamber. Moreover, it is the only VCR engine that enables a drastic reduction in friction losses compared with those generated by conventional engines. The MCE‑5 VCRi is also a transparent solution for the driver who will not notice any difference in its use compared with a conventional engine, and for the engineer who will find his normal marks in terms of combustion control or engine integration into any vehicle. These qualities eliminate any risk of a functional limit that could hinder the primary objective of VCR in future: to produce gasoline engines with the highest energy efficiency. MCE‑5 VCRi’s intrinsic qualities will thereby eliminate any risk of challenging a carmaker’s industrial investments because their VCR engines have functional limits that prevent the use of vital strategies.

What’s more, the MCE‑5 VCRi engine had been validated on a test bench and is currently the focus of a strong coalition working on its mass production by 2015-2017. Several major European and global engine component development and production companies are associated in this project.

For these different reasons, MCE‑5 VCRi is a trump card that offers a clear path to the mass production of VCR engines. MCE‑5 VCRi offers the assurance of applying the right strategy, at the right time, with the right technology.

Certain exotic paths such as electric drive trains
or fuel cells will not have significant markets
for several decades at least

The MCE‑5 VCRi is a trump card that offers a
clear path to the mass production of VCR engines