In our class discussions we have already talked about the future of car engines: the possibility of improvements in combustion efficiency, the expansion of the hybrid cars market, and the still small but promising fully electric cars industry with Tesla as their insignia brand.
The internal combustion engine has been around for a long time already, making the area for improvement very small, allowing the ‘new’ electric technologies to expand their size. As we have seen in the Volti book, the electric car is not a new invention, since they started in the early 20th century, when they had a similar market share than the internal combustion engines. After being absent of the market for a while, the use of electricity to propulse cars is back, and not only in small fuel efficient hybrid cars like the Prius.
The trend that we saw with Ford and GM attempting to make small cars and fuel-efficient trucks to compete with European and Asian brands, and the market in general moving into a higher milage per gallon efficiency, also made it to the F1. The new F1 rules (click for video) limit the fuel tank size and reduce the size of the engine with two cylinders less, on the other hand, to counteract this loss in power, they now have an extra gear and a longer lasting and more efficient KERS (kinetic energy regenerative system) system, that takes the energy loss from braking to add extra power later.
The so called Hypercars, are now making use of these more energy efficient technologies; the recently released LaFerrari, McLaren P1, Porsche 918 spyder, and the BMW i8, all count with a hybrid system. The real question raises when one thinks about the customers of these car who clearly do not care about how much gas they are using. Then, why are these big firms building these hybrid cars?
Since their creation, these firms had as a goal to produce the top line in the industry, in a way one could say that they want to show the rest of the industry how to make it better, faster, and in this case more efficient. These hybrid supercars are a reflection of what is going on in the industry, making evident this trend of where the industry is heading. Luxury brands such as BMW and Audi are already incorporating the KERS system into most of their models, and it would not be surprising to see brands like Ford and GM start using them in the future when their prices are more accessible.
In conclusion, in the near future, the KERS system that adds extra power to the traditional internal combustion engine seems to be the most likely evolution of the car, while fully electric cars will finally take over in the long run when oil runs out.