‘Lot of life in internal combustion engines yet’
There is a measure of panic in several countries, such as Germany, the United Kingdom and France, regarding calls by politicians seeking to ban the sale of vehicles with internal combustion engines (ICE) within the next couple of decades.
However, this will do little to stop or slow down ongoing development of these engines, which will still be the power units of choice for most people worldwide.
This came through clearly in an absorbing presentation by Vincent Vallette, export manager of Mahle, one of the top component and development suppliers to the global automotive industry. Mahle is actively growing potential business by providing more technical solutions.
Vallette was addressing a conference of the recently-named Reman Cluster of the Retail Motor Industry (RMI) organisation at the recent Automechanika Johannesburg trade fair for the automotive aftermarket at the Expo Centre.
The Reman Cluster is made up of four RMI associations: the SA Diesel Fuel Injection Association (Sadfia), Engine Remanufacturers’ Association (Era), Automotive Component Remanufacturers’ Association (Acra) and the Turbocharger Remanufacturers’ Association (Tra).
Mahle is a German-based company which started life as an alloy piston manufacturer in 1920. It now provides components for more than half the vehicles made globally. It initially concentrated on supplying Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), with 92% of its business in that sector. It is now looking to grow its share of the aftermarket business, which has been at only 8% of turnover. The growth approach includes offering a range of garage equipment going forward.
Vallette’s topic at the Reman Cluster conference was to consider the future of the internal combustion engine.
He was optimistic, saying that electric power may take market share in some First World markets, but ICE production would continue to grow as the global vehicle numbers are expected to increase from the 74-million units in 2010 to an estimated 123-million in 2030.
For this reason, he said that companies such as Mahle will continue to come up with innovative solutions to improving ICE efficiency by cutting fuel consumption and emissions. Reducing friction was a major challenge and Mahle was one of the world leaders with its high-tech pistons and rings. The company has more than 6 000 engineers working in 15 research and development facilities taking up the challenge of improving overall ICE efficiencies.
Vallette said that Mahle was also a participant in electrification technology and believed there would be four distinct types of power units soon: downsized internal combustion engine, petrol or diesel with electric hybrids, some with a plug-in facility, or pure electric and fuel cell. The German company was ensuring it was involved in all four areas of developing technology.
He added that the big challenge was still to cut CO² emission as it is seen as the major culprit in global warming.
“It is difficult to get a clear picture of the way forward and there are many obstacles to change. All of this makes life in the automotive world challenging and demanding,” concluded Vallette.