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The “dying” internal combustion engine has sprung back to life.
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Engine thermal efficiency from 46.06% to 46.1% to 46.5% ...... Fuel tank capacity from 55L to 60L to 65L ...... Comprehensive driving range from 1,000 kilometers to 1,500 kilometers to 2,000 kilometers ......

Who would have thought that the once “endangered” internal combustion engine would usher in a new spring in the era of intelligent electric vehicles. The recent BYD and Geely “engine thermal efficiency” dispute, so many people are curious, why the traditional internal combustion engine indicators have become the wind mouth of the car companies to chase?

01 Plug-in hybrids are hot and competition in the market is intensifying


Once upon a time, hybrid (HEV, PHEV) was considered a transitional technology route, a transition from traditional fuel vehicles to pure electric vehicles, however, this transitional product has hardened into a favorite of the times.


Statistics show that in 2023, China's pure electric vehicle sales reached 6.685 million units, up 24.6% year-on-year; plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) sales reached 2.804 million units, up 84.7% year-on-year. From January to April this year, plug-in hybrid sales grew 84.5% year-on-year, also much higher than the 12.8% growth rate of pure electric models in the same period. The plug-in hybrid model with rapid development momentum is becoming the main growth point of China's new energy vehicle market.


From the perspective of the global market, Toyota, which has been able to continuously dominate the list, has been able to stabilize the throne of the first brother, but also to a large extent due to the high growth of its hybrid models (HEVs). 2023 fiscal year, Toyota's sales of hybrid models increased by 30% compared with the previous fiscal year, reaching 3.55 million units.


The market's immediate need for hybrid models has naturally been captured by car companies, which is why they continue to launch new products whose performance parameters are pushed to the limit. Starting from the second half of last year, BYD, Geely, Changan, SAIC, Great Wall and many other Chinese car companies have increased their layout in the plug-in hybrid track, and this year they have launched products that realize new technological breakthroughs, and competition in the market has intensified.


One fact that has to be recognized is that the mileage anxiety problem that exists in pure electric vehicles is precisely the advantage of hybrid models. Therefore, car companies to promote their own engine thermal efficiency, low fuel consumption of 100 kilometers, long comprehensive driving range has become the subject.


02 Autonomous engine technology is no longer a lack of knowledge


It is worth noting that a phenomenon is that many consumers for the new energy era, China's own brand launched a plug-in hybrid products, but also in the competition who has the world's first thermal efficiency and other traditional internal combustion engine indicators quite incredible.

As the market share of electrified powertrain systems in new car sales climbs rapidly, companies are focusing more and more on the effective thermal efficiency of the engine, both as a demand to improve engine competitiveness and as electrification allows for the freedom to optimize the efficiency of the engine to be fully unleashed." Xin Jun, co-founder and chief strategy officer of Huajian New Energy, said in an op-ed in this newspaper. Industry insiders believe that the new energy vehicle era, on the contrary, can better play the internal combustion engine maximum value, and thus from the current point of view, the engine in the next long period of time will be more important than we think.

At the same time, new energy vehicles “bend the road to overtake” so that many people believe that the core technology of the engine is still in the hands of the major automotive powers, but in fact, China's auto brands “change the race” did not give up the engine powertrain technology.

The core technology of the engine mainly includes: turbocharging, direct injection, stratified combustion, double overhead camshaft, variable valve timing, compression ignition, variable compression ratio. Over the decades, these core technologies have not emerged as new disruptive technologies, although they are still being optimized, which gives independent brands the opportunity to catch up.

“In the past, we have been learning and following in the engine field, feeling that we may always lag behind Germany, the United States and Japan, these automotive powerhouses, but we also need to see an objective fact, more than two decades have passed, and China's automotive technology talent has been fully developed.” In Tianjin University, Professor of the State Key Laboratory of Internal Combustion Engine Combustion Science, the Chinese Society of Automotive Engineering, Yao Chunde, after decades of development, the core technology of the engine should be mastered, the independent brands have also mastered, it can be said that is completely thrown off the crutch.

03 Can not look at a single technical indicators


Although China's own brand is constantly refreshing the world's highest thermal efficiency record of the engine, but should calmly see that such data has its limitations. Yao Chunde said, “If you want to control nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide emissions to meet the relevant national emission regulations, it is difficult to achieve such a high thermal efficiency.”

Xin Jun said. Detached from the vehicle application boundary conditions of the engine effective thermal efficiency certification, from the perspective of consumer protection, not only does not have much practical value, and may even mislead consumers.

Outside of engine thermal efficiency, another invisible trend that has been complained about by some industry players and consumers is the increasingly large fuel tank volume of hybrid models. The latest plug-in hybrids that keep coming out now have even larger fuel tanks than conventional fuel vehicles in the same class.

“Big fuel tank this thing to look at it in two, on the one hand, it does increase the burden, the car's load is bigger, will bring about an increase in energy consumption, on the other hand, can substantially eliminate the consumer's mileage anxiety, such as the Spring Festival and other holiday travel peak, may be a tank of fuel to solve the problem, without having to go to line up halfway to make up for the energy.” An industry expert said that the large fuel tank hits the mileage anxiety of some consumers for electric vehicles.

For consumers and China's independent automobile development, although a single indicator can not fully judge the comprehensive product power of a model, but the benign technical arms race between car companies is still worth encouraging.


Declaration: This article comes from the China Automotive News.If copyright issues are involved, please contact us to delete.

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