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

It’s inexpensive

MCE‑5 VCRi: Offering the best
price/performance, price/fuel consumption and performance/fuel consumption ratios

Cars represent a major part of household budgets (12.3% in France between 1998 and 2006 - source: INSEE). For most people, the purchase of a car is a well thought out act since it has heavy consequences.

The engine is not a real differentiator:
competing cars can share the same engine

The French "incentive-penalty" system promotes
the sale of fuel-efficient cars to the
detriment of powerful ones

The additional cost of the MCE‑5 VCRi
is in line with most consumers’ budgets

The cost per gram of CO2/km eliminated by
MCE‑5 VCRi is between 3 and 10 times
less than that of a full-hybrid

The engine must represent as small a portion as possible of the total cost price of a car. We expect the engine to have the best possible energy efficiency and to provide real driving pleasure at the lowest possible cost.

Though they are essential, most end users don’t know much about engines. In the best case, they know its cubic capacity and power but are often unaware of its characteristics. This explains why the same engines can be shared by two vehicles as competitive as a BMW Mini and a Peugeot 207, without damaging their image. The engine is a second level selling point when compared with the vehicle’s brand, style, versatility, comfort and on-board features. However, a noisy engine that lacks driving dynamics or that has high fuel-consumption levels can “wreck” a car and imperil its success and profitability.

The engine must not only be affordable, it must also be fuel efficient. These two criteria are antinomic: it’s expensive to produce fuel-efficient cars. Fuel costs must be fairly high to allow users to recoup the cost of the engine. The high taxes applied to fuels in Europe have strongly contributed to the low fuel consumption levels of current European cars. On the contrary, in the USA, fuel taxes have always been fairly low, which has not encouraged the development of high energy-efficiency engines. The US is currently suffering from the consequences of this fiscal policy that has made their car fleet both unsuited to environmental constraints and sensitive to increases in energy prices.

2010 fuel prices do not reflect what they are destined to become in the coming years. As fuel is not yet expensive enough, the additional costs for very fuel-efficient engines are difficult to recoup. Yet, a good number of the vehicles sold today will still be in circulation when energy prices increase dramatically towards 2015 or 2020. To anticipate this new energy situation and to avoid a crisis, a policy of fiscal incentives or deterrent taxes is required. This policy must “force” the vehicle fleet to become more energy efficient to prepare for the future. In France, the “bonus – surcharge” system illustrates this will to guide the market by favoring the sale of fuel-efficient cars to the detriment of powerful ones: in 2008, these measures led to a 44.3% increase in the sales of cars emitting less than 130g of CO2/km and a 43% drop in the sales of vehicles emitting over 160g of CO2/km (source: ADEME):

While these measures may be unpopular, they are nevertheless essential. 50% of oil is used for transportation of which cars are a predominant part. Energy costs in France totaled 58.7 billion euros in 2008, i.e. roughly 3% of its GDP. Without this expense, France would have a slight trade surplus. It’s therefore vital that France save energy and develop a high-energy efficiency car fleet. All countries must implement this strategy because by reducing oil consumption, we mechanically reduce its price by reducing the tension between supply and demand. In future, solutions that allow us to live without oil will have a higher strategic value than does oil itself.

An important question remains the acceptable cost of an innovation aiming to reduce the fuel consumption levels of cars for the end customer. The cost benefit/ratio comes into play, as does the absolute cost. It is technically possible to produce very energy-efficient engines but they must affordable and profitable for most people. A very expensive engine will be difficult to sell and will remain locked in a niche market. Its impact on the total reduction of automotive energy consumption will be low and it will not be profitable for the carmaker. Hence, it is preferable to develop an affordable engine that reduces fuel consumption by 10% in 90% of new cars (9% total reduction), rather than to develop an expensive engine that reduces fuel consumption by 30% in 10% of new cars (3% total reduction).

The priority for MCE‑5 VCRi is to commercialize affordable engines with high energy efficiency.

MCE‑5 VCRi has all of the assets leading to commercial success: high power and torque, driving pleasure, acoustic comfort and high energy efficiency. With the advances made in its simplification and manufacturing, the absolute added manufacturing cost price of MCE‑5 VCRi in 2010 is roughly €350 for a 4-cylinder engine. This will result in an additional cost of roughly €700 for the end customer, which is in line with most consumers’ budgets. Thanks to the energy efficiency of MCE‑5 VCRi, this additional cost can be recouped with a low mileage (quick return on investment). In most cases, the additional cost of MCE‑5 VCRi will be offset as of its purchase through reductions in taxes on CO2 emissions per km or through incentives. Moreover, MCE‑5 VCRi will advantageously replace more complex and costly technologies. In 2015-2016, the replacement of Diesel with MCE‑5 VCRi will save up to 3000 euros for the end customer, with comparable or even lower fuel consumption. The cost per gram of CO2/km eliminated by MCE‑5 VCRi is already between 3 and 10 times less than a full-hybrid unit with comparable fuel consumption. In many cases, the customer will leave the dealership with a less expensive engine that consumes less fuel. In the worst case, for very small cars, 70,000 km are necessary to recoup the cost.

MCE‑5 VCRi’s characteristics are answers to the economic constraints of end customers, carmakers and legislators.