En­gines to grow af­ter emis­sions con­tro­versy

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - LAU­RENCE FROST and AG­NIESZKA FLAK

PARIS: Tougher Euro­pean car emis­sions tests be­ing in­tro­duced in the wake of the Volk­swa­gen scan­dal are about to bring sur­pris­ing con­se­quences: big­ger en­gines.

Car­mak­ers which have spent a decade shrink­ing en­gine ca­pac­i­ties to meet emis­sions goals are now be­ing forced into a costly U- turn, in­dus­try sources said, as more re­al­is­tic on- the- road test­ing ex­poses deep flaws in their small­est mo­tors.

Re­nault, Gen­eral Mo­tors and VW are pre­par­ing to en­large or scrap some of their best-sell­ing small car en­gines over the next three years, the peo­ple said. Other man­u­fac­tur­ers are ex­pected to fol­low, with both diesels and gaso­lines af­fected.

The re­ver­sal makes it even harder to meet car­bon diox­ide (CO ) tar­gets and will chal­lenge devel­op­ment bud­gets al­ready stretched by a rush into elec­tric cars and hy­brids.

“The tech­niques we’ve used to re­duce en­gine ca­pac­i­ties will no longer al­low us to meet emis­sions stan­dards,” said Alain Ra­poso, head of pow­er­train at the Re­nault-Nis­san al­liance.

“We’re reach­ing the lim­its of down­siz­ing,” he said at the Paris auto show, which ends to­day. Re­nault, VW and GM’s Opel all de­clined to com­ment on spe­cific en­gine plans.

For years, car­mak­ers kept pace with EU CO goals by shrink­ing en­gine ca­pac­i­ties, while adding tur­bocharg­ers to make up lost power. Three­cylin­der mo­tors be­low one litre have be­come com­mon in cars up to VW Golf-sized com­pacts; some Fiat mod­els run on twin-cylin­ders.

These mo­tors sailed through of­fi­cial tests con­ducted on rollers at un­re­al­is­ti­cally mod­er­ate tem­per­a­tures and speeds. Car­mak­ers, reg­u­la­tors and green groups knew real-world CO and ni­tro­gen ox­ide (NOx) emis­sions were higher, but the dis­crep­ancy re­mained un­re­solved.

All that is about to change. Start­ing next year, new mod­els will be sub­jected to re­al­is­tic on­the-road test­ing for NOx, with all cars re­quired to com­ply by 2019. Fuel con­sump­tion and CO will fol­low two years later un­der a new global test stan­dard. In­de­pen­dent test­ing in the wake of VW’s ex­po­sure last year as a US diesel emis­sions cheat has shed more light on the scale of the prob­lem fac­ing car­mak­ers. – Reuters

PIC­TURE: REUTERS

A Peu­geot 308 R Hy­brid en­gine dis­played at the Paris auto show.

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