Ian Kershaw, from Ricardo Strategic Consulting, talks to Marty Meyers, Infineum Marketing Communications Manager, about the innovation he expects to see in passenger car vehicle technology and its potential impact on lubricant formulations of the future.

With over 100 years of commitment to research and development and over 2,700 professional staff, Ricardo plc delivers innovative products and services to meet the challenges facing the transportation, energy and scarce resource sectors.

Ian Kershaw is Managing Director of Ricardo Strategic Consulting, a division that specialises in addressing high-impact issues and solving operational problems for the automotive and transportation sectors. An automotive strategy consultant, with a strong background in engineering, he is ideally positioned to outline the future roadmap for automotive technologies in Europe.

Three well established drivers - air quality, climate change and urbanisation - are continuing to shape automotive technology. And, with OEMs focused on reducing tailpipe emissions and improving fuel economy, Marty was keen to understand what engine innovations we might see in the European passenger car market.

“There has been a very strong trend in recent years to both downsize internal combustion engines and to use more advanced boosting technologies to improve their performance,” Ian confirms. “But, things could be about to change in response to recent amendments to European emissions legislation - specifically the introduction of a new drive cycle and the testing of real-world driving emissions (RDE), which will apply from 2017.”

Emissions legislation timeline
Amendments to European emissions legislation will require investment in both powertrain and aftertreatment technologies Large view

In Ian’s view, the new testing procedures will improve correlation with real-world driving, and will require investment in both powertrain and aftertreatment development to ensure compliance. “I think we can expect to see a pause in the engine downsizing trend over the next five to ten years,” he suggests. But, clearly that does not mean technology will stand still. “More advanced boosting systems, a combination of turbocharging and electrical supercharging plus the introduction of 48-volt electrical architectures means we will continue to see the improvements in the performance of the internal combustion engine.”

Ricardo Strategic Consulting's Ian Kershaw on truck electrification

Ian Kershaw, Ricardo Strategic Consulting

Video Transcript

Internal combustion engines of every flavour have to become cleaner from a noxious emissions point of view they also have to enable the vehicle to become more economical or to have lower COemissions. It’s not a debate of either cleaner of more fuel efficient they have to do both at the same time.

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While Ian clearly sees a need for OEMs to continue to improve the performance of their vehicles he says that consumers have a big role to play in shaping the future. “We are seeing disposable incomes stagnating in Europe, so consumers are unable to pay more for cleaner vehicles. This really puts pressure on OEMs to develop the most fuel efficient, clean and cost effective upgrades to the internal combustion engine.”

Diesel down but not out

300 Ian Kershaw 2Europe has historically been the main market for diesel engines in light–duty applications, so what do these trends mean in terms of the balance of powertrain technologies?

Ian thinks the strong and attractive performance of diesel engines - both from a fuel economy and drivability perspective - will continue to make them a popular choice for the region’s consumers. However, change is likely here too. “What we are seeing with the latest emissions regulations, is that the cost of diesel engines is becoming prohibitive, particularly for small cars. This means that for an A or B segment car, for example, a Fiat Panda or Renault Clio, diesel engines are being phased out and replaced by downsized gasoline engines – or even micro gasoline hybrids. However in larger cars, the C, D, E and sport utility vehicle segments, diesel will still have a central role to play for many years to come.

Ian Kershaw from Ricardo Strategic Consulting looks at the changing diesel market share

Ian Kershaw, Ricardo Strategic Consulting

Video Transcript

In the context of Europe, the diesel passenger car is becoming more expensive to produce for the carmaker, and is going to lose significant share to gasoline, and in particular, to gasoline hybrids.  With the latest emissions regulations that are coming  along now over the next five to 10 years, you're going to see- don't be surprised to see diesel market share reducing from about half in Europe, down to something like a third, 30 to 40% as a range. 

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Things look a little different in the commercial vehicle sector. Ian believes there is very little to substitute a modern diesel engine for long-haul heavy-duty applications, which means he expects diesel to remain the core technology here. However, change is likely in urban commercial vehicles, such as buses, refuse trucks and delivery vans. “These applications show real promise for electrification,” he suggests. “We will probably see the growth of hybrids or pure electric vehicles in this segment.

Electrification is part of the answer

But, what about electrification on a broader scale. As the demand for cleaner, greener vehicles ramps up, Marty asks how Ian sees its future in the transportation sector shaping up? “Electrification is one of the central long term pathways, particularly in the passenger car and urban commercial vehicle segments,” he confirms. But he has a concern here too. “The choice of the energy source does not answer all of the issues. Electrification, for example, does not answer the question of congestion – it’s part of the answer, but not all of the answer.”

While different forecasters have various numbers for battery electric vehicle market penetration, there is general consensus that they will account for a very small portion (3-7%) of vehicle sales by 2025. Ian estimates that at least 93% of light-duty vehicles made in 2025 will still contain an internal combustion engine.

Light vehicle production
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With all these changes in mind, Marty wanted to gauge what Ian sees for the fuel and lubricants markets.

Implications for fluids

“On the fuels side, for light-duty vehicles, we see a slow, but steady shift away from diesel to gasoline in the coming years. In addition, the gasoline fuels in use may well have a richer biofuel blend.”

Light vehicle production by fuel
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However, as diesel engines remain the core powertrain for heavy-duty commercial vehicles, he expects there will also be strong demand for diesel fuel.”

In terms of the lubricants market, Ian forecasts a positive outlook. “In Europe, we see the number of internal combustion engines being maintained, or even growing, as the vehicle parc increases out as far as 2040. In addition, as OEMs demand better fuel economy and engine protection in more severe operating conditions, they are tending to maintain lubricant volumes, despite the smaller engine displacements. Together, these factors mean that lubricant volumes may be stable for some time to come.”

At the same time, OEMs will be looking for more from the lubricant. “The technology content of engine oil is probably going to rise as the automotive industry turns to the lubricants industry to help them meet the performance challenges they face. I expect the requirements for lubricants to deliver wear protection, friction reduction, contamination and high temperature tolerance will all continue to rise over time.”

As emissions compliance moves from an engineering challenge to a whole vehicle challenge, it is increasingly important for stakeholders to work together to develop cleaner, sustainable and affordable transport that meets future market needs.




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