Automakers are always trying to figure out the next big thing. Whether it’s a technological safety addition, entertainment enhancement or engine advancement – it’s all welcome, as every manufacturer pushes one another for the betterment of all consumers.
Last week, Hyundai announced at their technical center in Superior Township, MI that they’re in the development stage of a breakthrough gasoline engine technology. It’s their new 1.8-litre GDCI (Gasoline Direct-Injection Compression Ignition) that acts similar to a 2.0-litre diesel engine and can achieve similar fuel economy numbers with the use of regular gasoline.
What that means is Hyundai’s new motor will use the heat from the compression to ignite the fuel instead of using a spark plug. In addition, this new system will utilize a supercharger and turbocharger to up its performance-levels. There’s no official horsepower (hp) or torque number, but early reports suggest it will be around 180 hp with most likely a higher torque number similar to a typical diesel.
The performance numbers aren’t the main draw to this new motor, it’s the fuel savings that can be achieved with gasoline. Hyundai is claiming that their 1.8-litre GDCI can achieve a 25 per cent efficiency increase compared to traditional gasoline engines. That percentage is on par with current diesel statistics and consumers wouldn’t have to pay those higher diesel prices, nor search for a station that carries diesel.
"The technology is very promising, and we believe it will be a game-changer," said John Juriga, director of powertrain engineering at the Michigan tech center.
Hyundai’s news comes at a time when diesels have been slowly gaining momentum in Canada, especially at Volkswagen with their range of Turbocharged Direct Injection (TDI) models and at Chevrolet with its new Chevrolet Cruze Diesel. Furthermore, a survey was just recently conducted on behalf of Audi concluding that more than 50 per cent of American drivers would prefer government incentives on clean diesels rather than full EVs.
If this new engine becomes a reality, which Hyundai surely expects, it will be interesting to see how much it will affect future diesel sales, as well as the sales of lesser fuel-efficient gasoline engines. In my opinion, this type of engine would need premium fuel, so that might slightly offset the price disparity between gasoline and diesel.
We will have to wait and see as Hyundai is still in the early development stage and there’s no set timetable for production. However, Hyundai has made mention of a goal of in-car testing at some point next year, aiming at the Sonata as its first guinea pig.