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Ford and Maritz Research studies concur - fuel economy is key to new vehicle purchases decisions

If the industry truly believes the Ford and Maritz Research studies that fuel economy is truly key to vehicle purchase decisions, then why does the auto industry still dole out its engine technologies in measure, especially with the 2016 government mandates hanging over their heads?


According to a 2011 Maritz Research study, 42 percent of all consumers surveyed say fuel economy is an “extremely important” new vehicle purchase driver – up 13.5 percent versus a decade ago. Millennials, the new term for the latest generation, rank its importance even higher and rate it most often as having the “greatest impact” on future vehicle purchases.

The Maritz Research survey results also track with Ford’s 2011 research and sales trends. Consumer perceptions of Ford delivering “good gas mileage” grew 57 percent from late 2008 to the end of the first quarter of 2011, according to Ford’s latest brand health study. Plus, Ford’s small vehicle sales have been hitting record levels in the U.S.

“Customers are telling us clean and green vehicles matter most because they are good for people’s wallets and good for our planet,” said Mark Fields, Ford president of The Americas. “We hear what they are saying, and that is why Ford is absolutely committed to giving our customers vehicles with top fuel efficiency.”

With that in mind, Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) has been at the forefront of IC engine technology with direct fuel injection, variable cam timing and turbo charging. Fact is, their tech displays at every auto show has been first class, in this reporter’s opinion.

Then again, so has General Motors Comapnay (NYSE: GM) and other automakers; albeit in different forms. Problem is, 2016 is fast approaching, and the industry has yet to prove it can meet the expectations without extensive dependence on expensive electrification. Aslo of great concern is the chronic marketing lean toward highway figures for fuel economy, when the masses drive mostly in the city.

Question is, what is the next level that Ford and other auto manufacturers will have to go to be competitive? For certain, engine technology like GM’s HCCI that runs like a diesel on gasoline cannot gain as much as hoped. Then the industry is paying lip service to nat-gas cars so it can pander to the electrification drive of politicians. What to do?

There is yet another!

Truth is, the industry still has one more major tech move that it has yet to make: splitting the four cycle engine in half.

Yes, split-cycle engine technology that creates a cold side and a hot side will avail a whole new avenue of opportunities, including the ability to make use of the Miller effect, not to mention the ability to store energy in the form of an air hybrid at a cost that will be significantly less than electrification.

If you’ve been reading my articles at Torque News at all, then you know where I’m going with this: the Scuderi Split-Cycle Engine. It's not the company, but the tech idea that counts. Yet, that is not the only one. Oded Tour has a similar but distinctively different arrangement for his split cycle engine.

Then there is the external combustion engine (ECE) of Cyclone Power. This is the same technology that will power a steam engine this summer to break the land speed record for the class run. Plus the engine burns almost any kind of fuel thoroughly.

Bottom line for me on this subject is this: The auto industry best get its act in order so it can meet the 2016 mandates. If it fails, then consumers will be left only with expensive electrified vehicles in an economy that has yet to recover; and may not recover to the degree hoped upon.

It is that kind of false economic hope that brought bankruptcy to the industry in 2008. My own hope is that the likes of Ford, GM, Chrysler and Fiat, along with Honda, Nissan, Toyota and the rest have better sense.

About the Reporter: After 39 years in the auto industry as a design engineer, Frank Sherosky now trades stocks, futures and writes articles, books and ebooks like, "Perfecting Corporate Character," "Awaken Your Speculator Mind", and "Millennial World Order" via He may be contacted here by email: [email protected]

Additional Reading:
Scuderi says 50-plus mpg achievable with turbocharged split-cycle air-hybrid engine
GM ranks above in clean-energy patents
EPA sets milestone for alternate fuel industry with regulation amendments
Buick LaCrosse with eAssist on par with highway fuel economy of compacts
Scuderi Air-Hybrid Engine technology setting up to challenge electric hybrids
Cella Energy achievement may make hydrogen fill-up a reality
Stop-start technology to advance more micro hybrids by 2016
Four alternate engine technologies for 2011 and beyond


Republican Girl (not verified)    June 22, 2011 - 1:48PM

I hope electric vehicles are NOT the only hope. What are people going to do when electric bills go SKY HIGH? The current administration already said it doesn't want any coal plants here in the USA, yet supports that and 'clean coal' technology places like China. I think electric vehicle owners will one day soon wish they stuck with gasoline cars. IF they have a job and the employers aren't ALL in China for their cheap energy prices. Nice to see other ideas. Hope they take root! :)

Adam Doyle (not verified)    June 22, 2011 - 3:29PM

There is another split-cycle design in the works. It is currently early stage but still progressing. It made a splash at the 2011 SAE World Congress and got noticed by some automotive engineers (enough interest to warrant a meeting 3 days after revealing the engine to the world). Of course gaining interest is far from having a functioning prototype in a real-life car and being able to sell, but it is meaningful when it is from engineers in the business. We look at is as motivation for us rather than affirmation of the idea by them.

I just thought the Doyle Rotary Engine was worth mentioning here with its split-cycle design and all.

Anonymous (not verified)    July 3, 2011 - 10:54AM

no need to worry about what ford is going to do the worry should be towards who is gm going to copy to stay up to date.