There's Still Life in That Old ICE

Skype video dialogue with Dr. Walter McManus, Director of Automotive Analysis Group

By EV World Video

Dr. Walter McManus is a highly-respected academic and automotive industry researcher. He is an economist with the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute and is director of their Automotive Analysis Group.

Back in 2006, the heyday of the SUV, his group released a report that found increasing fuel economy by as little as two miles per gallon would result in increased profitability for automakers. One of those carmakers was Ford Motor Company, led by then-Chairman Bill Ford, Jr. and President and CEO, Alan Mulally. At the urging of McManus and the University, Ford began a concerted effort to improve fuel economy across its fleet. It took five years, but early in 2011, it announced that a significant reason for its recent profitability could be traced directly to the consumer appeal of its fuel efficient vehicles, a statement which clearly pleased Dr. McManus.

We asked him to talk to EV World about how carmakers like Ford and now GM, with its 40 mpg Chevy Cruze, have managed to improve the fuel efficiency of their vehicles without resorting to expensive, full-hybrid or plug-in technologies. Specifically, we wanted to know how accurate the claims of 40 mpg are, and how much more can the IC engine be improved without resorting to various electrification strategies.

According to the U of Michigan economist, there appears to still be a lot of life in the internal combustion engine, including adding turbo charging that allows a smaller engine to offer comparable performance to higher displacement engines. One of the more promising and relatively simple, low cost approaches it engine start/stop systems (mild hybridization) that can save up to 17% in fuel savings for a nominal additional cost to the carmaker and possibly little additional expense to the customer. GM will introduce this, he notes, across its entire vehicle line-up, starting with the Buick LaCrosse.

In his view there is still a lot of life in that ICE, including serving as the transition bridge to fully electric drive systems, either battery or fuel cell. But he also sees technology like Skype, transit-on-demand, and telecommuting, which he does, traveling only occasionally to his office 60 miles away, as reducing the need for automobiles and the energy they require to operate. In this respect, he's very much on the same page as NASA's Dennis Bushnell.

This EV World Skype video dialogue is divided into three segments, each approximately 12-14 minutes in length, and ordered in sequence.

Times Article Viewed: 9610
Published: 03-May-2011


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