High Performance And Fuel Efficiency Not An Oxymoron Anymoreby Janus Onbekend Content Writer If there’s one good thing to come out of the energy crisis of the 1970s, it’s the energy efficiencies imposed on car manufacturers, first by governments and then by the consumers themselves. Manufacturers had no other choice but to comply because of penalties imposed by governments to gas guzzling cars. Adding motivation to furthering efficiencies was the entry of smaller, more fuel-efficient cars from Japan that consumers around the world wholeheartedly embraced. As we have seen, carb fed gas-guzzling V8s quickly became undesirable choices for car buyers.
Upon the announcement of CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) requirements, manufacturers howled at the impossibility of meeting those standards. Today though, 50 mile per gallon cars are readily available on the market. Leading up to this significant increase in mileage was the development of technologies like electronic fuel injection and engine management, catalytic converters, aerodynamic car bodies, low rolling resistance tires and reduced friction coatings and lubricants. All these areas of development were the result of the push given to the manufacturers to improve efficiencies. In so doing, engine performance was greatly improved, to the point that instead of killing off the aftermarket performance scene, it produced a billion-dollar industry.
If you look at the array of vehicles out on the market, you’ll be astounded at the amazing performance available from today’s 4-cylinder engines, rivalling in fact the six or even eight-cylinder dinosaurs coming from Detroit in the 60s and 70s. A key technology to this was the development of electronic sensors and controls which allowed the precise metering and burning of fuel. Another technology which in recent years has caught on with manufacturers is forced induction, or more commonly known as turbocharging and supercharging. In fact, some manufacturers today have small-displacement (1400 cc or so) engines that are both turbocharged and supercharged. In decades past, turbo or supercharging has been a proven way to significantly improved aftermarket performance. But without the accompanying precision provided by electronic controls, aftermarket forced induction installations were highly complex, finicky and not always reliable.
As a measure of how forced induction, turbochargers specially, have come of age, BMW has begun replacing its award-winning engines with forced induction replacements. A particular example is the famous M5 sedan, which began life as a 5-series executive sedan with a high-performance inline six. Later models then progressed to a V8 and then to the infamous F1-derived V10 which gave the mass market consumer 500 horsepower at the drop of a pedal. So what did BMW do to top this engine? It went back to a V8 which, because of its twin turbos runs rings around the V10 and consumes 30% less fuel to boot.
Undoubtedly, the early days of the CAFE standards drove many enthusiasts to despair as they saw their beloved high performance V8s gasp and stumble in the quest for improved efficiencies and emissions. But as the decades have shown, strict regulations have in this instance bettered the outlook for OEM and aftermarket performance.
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Created on Oct 7th 2012 06:30. Viewed 237 times.
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