Direct injection cars and trucks seem to be the answer to the fuel economy problem that many manufacturers are facing. While the technology may seem to be incredibly complicated, it’s actually rather simple.
Manufacturers searching for a way to boost their fuel economy average prior to the 2016 corporate average fuel economy regulations go into effect have been trying to work through the problem of fuel waste. In any internal combustion engine, a certain amount of fuel is used for other purposes or is wasted. Gasoline engines use fuel for some aspects of lubrication, for instance.
Injection Versus Carburetors
Traditional injection took the place of traditional carburetors when it was found that by injecting gasoline into the intake of the vehicle engine, less fuel could be used to create more power. This change roughly coincided with engine management computers being used to monitor and improve engine performance. Direct fuel injection is the natural progression of the marriage of those technologies. The reason for this is that it is still a form of fuel injection. The only difference is that rather than injecting the fuel into the intake tract as is the case with traditional injection, the fuel is injected directly into the combustion chamber.
The process is simplified by thinking of a car driving from one end of town to the other. The old way has the car (the fuel) traveling the back roads in a relatively meandering path until finally deposited at its destination. The new way has the same car traveling on a superhighway that bypasses the town all together.
Benefits and Drawbacks
From a fuel economy standpoint, there really aren’t any drawbacks to directly injecting fuel into the engine. From a practical standpoint, however, there are a few. For years, many people have lamented the increasing complexity of today’s automobile. Where once repairing an engine was a relatively inexpensive undertaking, today’s engine parts can easily run into the thousands of dollars. As injection technology changes to keep up with increasingly stringent fuel economy standards, the number of parts in these engines has dramatically increased, giving more of those complex parts more opportunities to break.
The benefits really are too great to overlook, though, regardless of what repair costs are incurred. Directly injected engines typically achieve approximately 15% better fuel economy and as much as 50% higher torque than with today’s injection technology. Used worldwide, this could lead to a savings of billions of gallons of gasoline per year.
As with any new technology, this form of injection is expensive for now, but as time continues on, consumers will find that the benefits will greatly outweigh what was paid for the technology. Since many of today’s manufacturers are using the new technology anyway, the upgrade will take place regardless of whether consumers feel that the price is fair or not. In this way, the auto industry will continue to produce increasingly more fuel efficient vehicles that will make today’s hyper-efficient new cars seem like gas guzzlers by comparison.