Can Delphi Solve the Diesel Problem?

Delphi Automotive is knocking on doors and pitching a solution to diesel engine problems for major automakers: more efficient gasoline engines with better low-end torque. Delphi manufactures powertrain and electronic components for the vehicle sector. The company believes that they have a hybrid solution (pun intended) to diesel emissions that are causing so many problems for automakers trying to appease government investigations and regulations. The parts company wants to combine a light-duty hybrid powertrain with a gasoline engine equipped with cylinder deactivation that promises a 19 percent boost to efficiency compared to traditional gas engines.

Increasing engine efficiency is important because most large European automakers bet big on diesel to meet stringent environmental standards. But it turned out that major automakers like Volkswagen couldn’t beat the emissions standards and provide high fuel efficiency, so they cheated on emissions tests. When government investigators peeked under the hood and discovered the fraud, they cracked down on emissions even further. Now, manufacturers are scrambling to respond to tighter regulations but don’t have efficient gasoline engines to replace dirty diesels.

That’s where Delphi comes in. The company claims that is can hold on to the low-end torque of the diesel engine that consumers are demanding, but still make sure that gas engines comply with the new environmental requirements. So how do they do it? They are suggesting that they can take a 48-volt hybrid system, a gas engine, and throw in some secret sauce: Tula Dynamic Skip Fire. (That’s a fancy brand name for cylinder deactivation.) The company says that an eight-cylinder model and turbo-four are ready for production. The efficient system offers a 10 to 20 percent boost in fuel economy and up to 20 percent reduction in CO2 emissions.

The company says that the systems are ready for production and they are looking for interested automakers. The reality is that these powertrains probably won’t be in play until at least 2020 if any interested automakers want to integrate them into future product planning.