by David Johnson
President and CEO
Speculation about the imminent demise of diesel due to the recent VW news is frankly, overblown. Not to dismiss any aspects of the current issue, but we think that this will be a turning point for internal combustion engine efficiency and emissions, and therefore, will ultimately result in better products for consumers and cleaner air for all.
Diesel has long had a reputation as a reliable and efficient fuel. Recent advancements in emissions controls – including exhaust-gas recirculation, selective catalytic reduction, diesel particulate filters and modern computer control – have brought these to levels that, when combined with the efficiency of the fuel, make diesel engines a powerful, efficient and low emissions powertrain choice. One only has to drive the products offered by BMW, Chevrolet, Jeep, Dodge, Ford and others to see that it is possible to meet emissions standards while not sacrificing efficiency and durability.
Electric and hybrid vehicles have so far failed to be the market changer that was promised all those years ago. Costs are still too high and significant consumer behavior and infrastructure changes are still required. Of course, cleaning up the sources of electricity on a global basis is also no small challenge and until this is done, calls into question the real cleanliness of these vehicles. Diesel and gasoline internal combustion engines will remain the most popular option for powering vehicles for both the near and the long-term because of the high performance, low cost and the existing infrastructure.
Manufacturers are facing increased pressure to meet stringent and ever increasing global environmental standards without adding additional costs and complexity to their vehicles or manufacturing facilities. Efficiencies such as light-weighting, fuel management, exhaust treatment and others have led to significant improvements, but to meet future demanding regulations a step change in powertrain technology is necessary.
The industry needs to continue looking at ways to reduce emissions without compromising power, utility, and performance. With the Achates Power opposed-piston, two-stroke engine, we can meet the EPA 2010, Euro 6 and Tier 3/LEV 3 regulations, with an engine that is 30 percent more efficient than a comparable diesel engines and 80 percent more efficient than gasoline fueled engines.
While the VW issue is a setback for both clean air and the perception of diesel, the underlying issue is not with the diesel engine technology nor diesel fuel. Regulators in Europe and the U.S. will increase their vigilance, VW will modify their engine controls and, most customers will not notice a significant decrease in efficiency or performance.
Change in regulations and testing will affect the industry but ultimately be a boon for the end consumer with cleaner, more efficient engines…like the Achates Engine!