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REPORT: Auto makers to U-turn on small engines


The current trend of manufacturers utilising small forced induction engines to balance power with optimal fuel consumption, is reportedly set to came to end in response to new stricter European emissions requirements.

According to a report by Reuters this past weekend, General Motors, Renault and Volkswagen are said to be in the process of scrapping a number of its small capacity petrol and diesel engines, in favour of bigger units as new regulations for 2017 require "real-world" emissions figures instead of those tabled under lab conditions.

The report claims that small capacity petrol mills are plagued by a loss of efficiency and release of fine carbon monoxide particles, while the heat build-up from similarly sized diesel units generate NOx up to 15 times over the required limit.

Although auto makers have remained quiet on the imminent problem, industry sources have alleged that those in question are moving away from smaller engines and back to bigger equivalents.

Accordingly, Volkswagen is rumoured to be phasing out its 1.4 TDI for a 1.6 TDI, while Renault will enlarge is existing 1.6 dCi by 10% after canning its 1.9 dCi five years ago. GM is however set to retrain its 1.2-litre diesel, although its smallest engine will be 25-30% bigger from 2019 onwards.

The adoption of the new regulations, according to analyst, would also mark the end of diesel engines below 1.5-litres and petrol units 1.2-litres and lower, resulting in many auto makers turning to hybrid or electric power to meet CO2  levels.

"It becomes apparent that a small engine is not an advantage. That's why we didn't jump on the three-cylinder engine trend," Mercedes-Benz Head of Research and Development, Thomas Weber, told Reuters.

Similarly, Renault-Nissan Head of Powertrain Development, Alain Raposo, admitted at the recent Paris Motor Show that the limits of downsizing had been reached.

"The techniques we've used to reduce engine capacities will no longer allow us to meet emissions standards," he said.


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