Clean Diesel and Gasoline Injection Will Rule the U.S. Market

Jan. 1, 2020
America is becoming more focused about saving energy. Consumers are increasingly concerned about rising fuel costs. The threat of foreign oil dependency has shifted government policies to make energy-saving an issue of national security ...
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Clean Diesel and Gasoline Injection Will Rule the U.S. Market America is becoming more focused about saving energy. Consumers are increasingly concerned about rising fuel costs. The threat of foreign oil dependency has shifted government policies to make energy-saving an issue of national security. In addition, various organizations are raising public awareness of environmental issues, such as global warming stemming from greenhouse gas emissions.  As a result of these and other market drivers, Bosch USA says that the U.S. automotive market is ripe for some profound changes.
The price of gasoline and diesel in the U.S. has more than doubled since the early 1990s.
Photo: Robert Bosch GmbH
"When one considers America's long-term love affair with SUVs and other large V8-powered vehicles, perhaps the most striking example of the new environmental awareness is the '20-in-10' plan announced by President George W. Bush, which aims to reduce fuel consumption by 20 percent over the next 10 years," says Christopher Qualters, Bosch USA's director for Diesel Sales and Marketing.  It's an ambitious target, as there are currently more than 230 million registered vehicles in the U.S. - including more than 95 million light trucks.  "But if the U.S. does succeed in meeting this target, it could reduce its current imports of Middle Eastern oil by 75 percent," Qualters notes. Getting from here to there, he adds, will require a paradigm shift in thinking and product mix offered by automakers and their suppliers, as well as buy-in by consumers.  Alternative fuels are no quick fix  "Stricter exhaust gas requirements to be introduced in 2009 will play an essential part in progressing modern engine technologies and alternative fuels to the series production stage," asserts Qualters. Hybrids stand the best chance in urban areas and in states with tough environmental legislation, such as California, but tax incentives have been an important ingredient of their success so far. In addition, he cautions that hybrid technology requires a clean, efficient combustion engine at its core. "Only when these and other challenges are overcome will alternative fuels become a truly viable, wide-scale option." - Christopher Qualters, Robert Bosch GmbH Qualters says Bosch anticipates that these vehicles will account for around 6 percent of U.S. automotive production by 2015. The reasons for this conservative prediction are the comparatively slow growth of production capacities, as well as the uncertainties regarding the residual value of the vehicles, which might influence their resale. The U.S. is investing more in the production of renewable energies, notes Qualters. One of the favorite candidates is ethanol, because the basic feedstock - corn - can be grown domestically. The U.S. expects to benefit from this in several ways: Domestic farmers will have a guaranteed market, and at the same time, dependence on foreign oil will decrease. From a U.S. perspective, the result is better national security. Thanks to federal and state incentives, ethanol is slightly less expensive than gasoline at the pump.  There are currently an estimated 6 million flex-fuel vehicles on the road in the U.S. today. General Motors, Ford and Chrysler are expected to double production of these models by 2010. "However, ethanol has 27 percent less energy content than gasoline, resulting in up to 21 percent more fuel consumption and offsetting the price advantage," Qualters shares. "Added to this is the fact that the U.S. does not yet have a nationwide delivery system for the fuel. Ethanol is currently only available at approximately 1 percent of U.S. fueling stations."  This is why some states, such as California, are working to ensure the long-term success of biodiesel, which does not require any additional infrastructure. Unfortunately, Qualters points out, consumers are showing hesitancy in switching, thanks to a number of factors. The amount of biodiesel produced today is just enough for a maximum 5 percent blend (or B5) with conventional mineral oil diesel - far from the U.S. goal of 20 percent (B20). In addition, current quality standards for biodiesel are not adequately established, and extended storage can lead to aging of the product and damage to fuel systems.  "Only when these and other challenges are overcome will alternative fuels become a truly viable, wide-scale option," concludes Qualters. Trend toward efficient, downsized gasoline and diesel engine designs Accordingly, the Bush plan focuses on more efficient engines for cars and light commercial vehicles and greater use of alternative fuels.  "The facts are clear," Qualters comments. "The fastest and most effective way to achieve meaningful fuel savings is through optimized internal combustion engines with gasoline direct-injection or clean diesel technology." Qualters says that despite the hype and potential, the possibilities for hybrid vehicles are still limited: "Last year, approximately 16.5 million cars and light trucks were sold in the U.S., and around 240,000 of them were hybrids. That's just 1.5 percent of all new vehicle registrations in the United States." 
The Application Center in Farmington Hills, MI, is Bosch's U.S. center for diesel development. 
Photo: Robert Bosch GmbH
By 2010, he adds, global production capacities for hybrid vehicles are expected to reach 1 million units. But that will only cover 6 percent of demand in the U.S. market, and around 2 percent of global demand for new vehicles - hardly enough to curb foreign imports. "Gasoline direct injection can have an immediate effect on fuel consumption when combined with downsized engines," Qualters points out. "A turbocharged 6-cylinder direct fuel-injection engine uses 10 to 15 percent less fuel than a larger 8-cylinder engine - with the same performance."  For this reason, he says, the U.S. is already witnessing the same trend toward downsizing that has been seen in Europe.  "We anticipate that in the year 2015, more than 14 percent of cars and light commercial vehicles manufactured in the U.S. will have gasoline direct injection," Qualters predicts. "We also anticipate significant growth in clean diesel, which is undergoing an image makeover in the United States."  In October 2006, clean ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel with a sulfur content of just 15 ppm was launched and is now available across the U.S. at 42 percent of the country's 76,000 fueling stations.  "Gone, too, are the days when diesel cars and light trucks could not be registered in all states," Qualters points out. "Modern diesel vehicles aren't just efficient and powerful; they are also clean enough to comply with very strict U.S. thresholds for diesel engines."  The last obstacle was nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions, which manufacturers are now keeping in check with the help of the latest clean exhaust technologies like BlueTec.  Changing perceptions: Putting facts in front of people With all these new developments coming on line, clean diesel is becoming a hot topic in the United States. According to Qualters, Bosch is working with all the major U.S. vehicle manufacturers on diesel projects. The popular Chevrolet Silverado/Sierra and the Dodge Ram pick-ups are already on the market complete with modern diesel technology from Bosch.  "The fastest and most effective way to achieve meaningful fuel savings is through optimized internal combustion engines, with gasoline direct-injection or clean diesel technology." - Christopher Qualters, Robert Bosch GmbH "A recent Harris Interactive survey found that 31 percent of informed buyers of new vehicles would select a clean diesel engine for their next vehicle over other available powertrains, including hybrids," observes Qualters. "Bosch is reinforcing the favorable perception of clean diesel through its fact-based marketing campaign. We are working together closely with our customers in the automotive industry, with state and federal government, as well as with other suppliers and leading industry organizations." Bosch's goal, he says, is to educate Americans about the continuous improvements taking place in diesel technology in terms of fuel consumption, performance and environmental compatibility. "Our activities have included our own 'Diesel Day' events in Detroit and California, a promotional fleet of clean diesel cars and SUVs, and a Diesel Learning Center exhibit," he adds. In 2006 alone, Bosch was involved in promotional and educational activities that reached more than 2 million consumers. 
Bosch expects growth in the share of diesel passenger cars and light trucks in the U.S. to be strong, tripling from 5 percent today to 15 percent by 2015.
Photo: Robert Bosch GmbH

"The number of new diesel registrations in the U.S. has risen by 80 percent since 2000 to almost 560,000 units in 2006 - more than double the figure for hybrids." Qualters explains. "Seen in this light, it is realistic to expect a noticeable growth in diesel's share of the U.S. market. We are assuming that the proportion of newly registered passenger cars, light-duty trucks and light commercial vehicles in the U.S. will grow to 15 percent by 2015. That's three times the current level of around 5 percent."

Qualters summarizes the current situation and the looming changes pending in the U.S. market: A combination of alternative fuels, including ethanol and biodiesel, are emerging in the U.S., but they are not yet capable of making serious headway until production and infrastructure hurdles are overcome. A variety of improved propulsion systems, including clean diesel and gasoline direct injection, remain better prospects for the short- and mid-term. 

"In the foreseeable future, the optimized internal combustion engine will continue to grow and assert its position as the technology of choice for the American market," he concludes.

(Source: Robert Bosch GmbH)

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