Niche way to keep the V8
Engines will get smaller but the big favourite stays, writes NEILDOWLING in Paris
GOOD news for petrolheads — the V8 engine will not die any time soon. Even the head of small-car hybrid development for General Motors in Europe believes the V8 will have a life which extends well into the future of the automobile.
‘‘We won’t see the end of the V8, even though in the future it may be niche market only,’’ says Mike Arcamore, GM Europe vicepresident of powertrains.
But Arcamore does forecast, like everyone from Volkswagen to Porsche, that there will be smaller and more-efficient engines.
‘‘You will see a lot more smallcapacity engines such as four and six-cylinder powerplants with turbocharging,’’ he says
For Australia, Arcamone forecasts a small ‘‘mild’’ hybrid, probably based on the Astra, which would be ready within two years. A full hybrid with a complete petrol-electric drivetrain will appear in 2012, in another extension of the local hybrid plan for the Holden Commodore.
He says carmakers have a global task to combat rising oil prices and satisfy the need for lower fuel consumption and emission levels.
‘‘It’s one task to march towards zero emissions,’’ he says. ‘‘But we can’t do it alone. Consumers and governments must assist us in this.’’
Arcamone says GM has the technology to make cars run on lowemission and sustainable ethanol.
‘‘ The Swedish Government pushed hard to create the infrastructure so E85 (85 per cent ethanol fuel) is readily available,’’ he says. ‘‘But the governments of other countries have not given any assistance. Everyone has to contribute.’’
Arcamone says GM’s first move will be to downsize engine capacity.
‘‘Then we will complement the internal-combustion engine with a mild hybrid using ‘start-stop’ technology that automatically switches off the engine when the car is stationary— such as in heavy traffic or at the traffic lights— then turns it back on again,’’ he says. ‘‘It will also have the ability for the driver to turn the system off in cases where the stop is very short.
‘‘We see this mild hybrid as lowentry technology that suits highvolume vehicles. We are still doing validation on that system.’’
Power shift: the move is towards smaller, power-efficient engines but this V8 will still be around.