Cooley On Cars
Engine holy grail: Gas, diesel or electric?We're at a tipping point, but which way?
[MUSIC] Hey folks, Brian Cooley here. Got another one of your emails about hi-tech cars and modern driving. This one comes in from Christopher C. in Barbados who says, I've been hearing about the new Skyactiv X engines from Mazda. And in your opinion do you think that this will be a step in the right direction Especially since most, if not all, car companies seem to have gone the electric route. Well, Kristopher, it's a very interesting situation. As you've noticed, all the headlines around cars seem to be about them becoming electrified, and yet car makers aren't stupid. They know that's years down the road before that hits the majority of market. So, they've got a lot of innovation to keep doing on the old combustion engine cars, diesel, gas, what have you. And no, of course the combustion engines aren't exactly down on their heels, backed into a corner. Sales of all plug in cars, globally, are estimated to be less than 1.5% of the market, at the end of 2017. And then the US sales of all cars with any combination of gas and electric motor were down to 2% in 2016. That's below the 3+% they enjoyed in 2013. Now part of that could be a swing more to pure EVs like a Tesla. And also to more crossovers and bigger suvs that may no offer hybridization. Cheap gas will do that for you So specifically, you asked about this new Mazda Skyactiv-X. Really interesting engine. What they've done is build a diesel gas hybrid. And I don't mean hybrid like electric. Diesel and gas come together. What it does is, here are the combustion chambers. It operates like a diesel by combusting the air fuel mixture through a combination of extremely high compression and then the resulting temperature and compression, a sort of instability, causes that mixture to explode and there you get your power. A traditional gas engine uses a spark plug, it is the same thing, and uses lowe compression, well, by doing this higher compression diesel trick, but still using gas they end up getting 30% better MPG, 30% more torque, those are diesel like attributes, but they also get cleaner tail pipe emission. Hat's a gasoline type attribute. Now what's interesting here is that sometimes there engine does use a spark plug unlike a diesel engine. They still have one in there like you see on this traditional engine. It'll work at low RPMs, and very high RPMs, where they found it kind of unstable, or difficult to manage gasoline compression ignition. BMW, meanwhile, is not betting on a gas engine that works like a diesel, It's just betting on a diesel. Saying all diesel cars have been unfairly painted with the VW brush. Their CEO and chairman Harald Kruger, making it sound almost like a conspiracy, to kill off a kind of engine that was really wrong thing for awhile there. But then ever since the VW scandal and increasing zero emission regulations and kind of a general american disinterest in diesels Has made the diesel look very very very yesterday. A lot of car makers have said they are gonna start to steer away from them, even European car makers. BMW plans to offer a 2000 Euro trade in bonus on older Euro 4 level cars towards the purchase of a newer clean Euro 6 model. And to offer a free upgrade to cleaner burning tech on those who own the Euro 5 level vehicles on the road now. Now that double down runs counter to recent pronouncements by France, India, China, UK, Norway, all of which have said they're setting dates soon by which you can no longer sell combustion engine cars in their borders. Luckily those dates are out a couple of decades or so in most cases. With the expectation of Norway they say by 2025 that's it that's the drop date day for dismal and gas. If i burns something they don't want it sold there after 2025 But for most vehicle makers and most major vehicle markets we've got a few decades of runway, and what Mazda's doing with Sky Active X shows that there's still a lot of innovation left around the spark plug, or the lack there of, while still combusting something. Keep those emails coming. I'm here to answer your questions about high tech cars and modern driving. It's firstname.lastname@example.org.