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

It’s profitable

The MCE‑5 VCRi is a profitable technology for OEMs and the end customer

If we wanted to build the cleanest and most fuel-efficient vehicle with the best performance, we would equip it with a full hybrid Diesel engine powertrain with a two-stage turbocharging system. This vehicle would have an oxidation catalyst, a particulate filter and a DeNOx system using urea-SCR. It would have a continuously variable transmission (CVT), a carbon chassis and aluminum bodywork. Its alternator would be replaced by a fuel cell and different functions, such as the power steering and water pump would be electric. Its roof would be covered with PV cells.

The problem is that this vehicle would be so expensive that no one would buy it. It would therefore have no impact on total CO2 emissions and would not decrease any country’s energy costs. Building such a car would be a financial disaster: huge investments in R&D and production facilities without any profitability. What’s more, this vehicle would in no way decrease the carmaker’s average CO2 emissions from production.

The difficulty lies in designing profitable vehicles that will sell in large numbers. As soon as you deal with a large public, it’s difficult to remain profitable on a market as competitive as the automotive market. Luxury cars are generally profitable, but they are intended for too small a public, which means that their unit profitability is good but the absolute revenue generated by this type of car remains low.

For vehicles to be attractive, it is preferable – at same conditions – that the cost of the engine remains limited with respect to the cost of the vehicle as a whole: most end customers are not interested in putting money into an engine. They generally prefer to pay for a DVD player, a GPS or a nicer interior rather than for an engine. The engine must be reliable, pleasurable and fuel-efficient. The driver must be able to forget about it on both a financial and technical level but it must be able to provide the vehicle with the performance and comfort that the users expect.

Hybrid cars make the opposite wager: a lot of money is invested solely in their drive system. These vehicles are expensive in terms of the performance and comfort that they provide, especially if they are made for a wide public. For this reason, it’s difficult to obtain normal profit margins since their cost/performance ratio is already at the limit of what is acceptable. In order to become truly profitable, the hybrid depends directly on the economic, technical, and regulatory context prevailing in the automotive market. Indeed, to be profitable, the hybrid needs expensive gasoline, little progress made on conventional engines and stringent standards on pollutant emissions, particularly in an urban environment.

The more the vehicule is dependant on electricity
the more expensive its powertrain and energy storage system

As for electric vehicles, we cannot speak of economic or functional transparency for users: a heavy price is paid for the energy storage system that has a low level of performance. Moreover, the poor energy capacity of the batteries will lead to an obsessive need to recharge them: this daily vigilance will be the price to pay to avoid calling a taxi or a tow truck. IC engine range extenders will quickly become necessary to overcome this shortcoming, but will further worsen the already high price/performance ratio of this type of vehicle. As for plug-in hybrids, that fact that they are actually “recharged” will depend on the users’ cultural implication, discipline and steadfastness. For many of these users, the plug-in hybrid will mainly be used as a “normal” hybrid since recharging the batteries at a power point will likely be considered as a limitation. It will be a challenge to add new constraint in a world in which people are striving to eliminate them.

The best compromise and the best strategy are undeniably the development of high-performance, fuel-efficient IC engines that are inexpensive to produce. This is the goal of the MCE‑5 VCRi engine. In the most unfavorable case, the additional cost of the MCE‑5 VCRi is approximately 500 euros with the supercharger included, which is the same price as a Diesel particulate filter. At that price, the MCE‑5 VCRi offers the advantages of Diesel engines without the drawbacks.

The MCE‑5 VCRi engine also offers strategic industrial advantages: it is made of forged parts that are then machined, which enables the manufacturing of several thousand engines per day with controlled costs. A decisive aspect is also the pollutant aftertreatment that is achieved with a simple 3-way catalytic converter.

The MCE‑5 VCRi engine will provide customers with excellent results in terms of torque and power, as well as excellent energy efficiency. Inexpensive to produce, it is intended for mass production and should generate high sales volumes.

Those are the two main ingredients for both a good relative and absolute profitability of a technology.