Infiniti Announces Internal Combustion Engine Breakthrough

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【Summary】Nissan’s luxury division Infiniti is claiming a new breakthrough in engine technology that will allow for variable compression for the first time ever in a production vehicle.

Original   Eric Walz  ·  Nov 21, 2017 3:28 PM PT
author: Eric Walz   

Although electric vehicles are increasing in numbers worldwide, the combustion engine is still a viable source of power for the automotive industry. Nissan's luxury division Infiniti is claiming a new breakthrough in engine technology that will allow for variable compression for the first time ever in a production vehicle.

More than 20 years in development, Infiniti's new VC-Turbo four-cylinder turbocharged gasoline provides more power and better fuel efficiency by raising and lowering pistons depending on driving conditions.

In a standard internal combustion engine, the pistons travel a static distance, as they are affixed to the crankshaft by solid steel or aluminum connecting rods. The length of travel during each engine revolution is known as ‘stroke' as each piston move up and down in the cylinder. This process determines the engine's compression ratio, which has a direct effect on engine power output.

Infiniti showed off the 2-liter variable-compression turbocharged gas engine for the first time in 2016. Now, the Japanese automotive brand says the technology will arrive on the 2019 Infiniti QX50 crossover.

Infiniti's new engine can choose an optimal compression ratio variably between 8:1 and 14:1. The engine automatically adjusts the compression ratio based on torque demands, always maintaining top efficiency.

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Shinichi Kiga, Nissan's chief powertrain engineer, told Automotive News that the new QX50 would have 27% better fuel economy than its predecessor and go 0 to 60 miles per hour nearly a second faster than comparable 4-cylinder engines.

Automakers have been pursuing variable-compression technology for years. Infiniti said the technology delivers "the torque and efficiency of an advanced diesel powertrain" without the diesel emissions while delivering performance similar to a typical six-cylinder gas engine.

Japanese automaker Mazda also recently claimed a breakthrough with compression-ignition technology that it says is 20% to 30% more efficient than previous models.

Despite the breakthrough, several major automakers have pledged to begin a slow transition away from gasoline powered vehicles to electric.

Volvo recently announced plans to make only hybrid or electric vehicles. And General Motors has announced plans to switch to all-electric cars in the future.

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