US: latest engine trend is small and powerful image

Automakers are increasingly turning towards smaller displacement engines, speedier transmissions, electronic features and lightweight advanced materials to both secure customer satisfaction and also meet increasingly tough upcoming fuel economy standards.

Auto sales in the United States are returning slowly to the “bigger is better” credo – with jumping deliveries of sport utility vehicles, crossovers and pickup trucks, thanks to the dropping fuel prices and the fact that carmakers are increasingly developing better designs. The latter statement has to do with interesting underlying changes across the auto industry: Cadillac has recently unveiled its flagship sedan without a V8 powertrain on offer, a Chevy Corvette might return 30 miles per gallon in highway driving scenarios and the rock-climbing Jeep Wrangler will come equipped with an aluminum body. The auto shows this year have brought the new generation of the “new generation” vehicles – they have small and powerful engines, speedy and economical transmission, a wide array of electronic features and gadgets and increasingly use advanced, lightweight materials.

One of the final goals – reach to the US mandates for fuel economy. “We are now past a tipping point. They are making geometric strides in terms of the capability of vehicles,” comments an analyst. The consumers are the ones gaining all the advantages – they will have new cars that use the latest available materials, have the same power and might as always but use less fuel and come choke full of the latest technological advancements when it comes to safety and entertainment features. Back in 2005, vehicles produced in North America came 44% equipped with V6 engines and 28 percent had V8s. Now, this year forecasts predict 51 percent will have four-cylinder hearts and only 14 percent will employ the mighty V8.