Automakers have invested plenty of time and money into various fuel-saving technologies, over the past few decades. This includes improvements such as direct injection, cylinder deactivation, and auto start-stop features.
It is a difficult task to keep a track of the companies which have adopted these technologies. Luckily, the EPA’s 2022 Automotive Trends Report includes data that shows which automakers have adopted what technologies.
Understanding the Data
The percentages shared in this infographic indicate how 14 major automakers have implemented various fuel-saving technologies into their lineups. The report did not specify if this data is for North American models only.
There are several geographical trends hidden within the dataset. To make it clear, the 14 automakers have been color-coded in the infographic on the basis of their nationality.
Beginning from the top of the graphic, we can see that Japanese automakers are big supporters of gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines, as well as continuously variable transmissions (CVT).
When using a GDI engine, fuel is injected directly into the combustion chamber at high pressure. This method is more accurate than the traditional method known as port injection, which results in greater fuel efficiency and lower emissions.
CVT transmissions use pulleys instead of gears to improve fuel efficiency. CVTs work best when are they are paired with smaller, lower output engines, which may clarify why Japanese automakers (who have a history of building smaller cars) have adopted them so widely.
Toyota is listed as having 0% adoption of direct injection, but this is not true exactly. The automaker uses its D4-S system, which is a combination of both port and direct fuel injection.
On the other hand, South Korean automakers have a more stable technology profile, adopting a wider number of technologies, but each to a less significant degree.
German automakers are well-known for their expertise in building combustion engines, so their use of turbocharging and direct injection in nearly every model is of no surprise.
They have also greatly adopted high gear-count transmissions (7 or more gears), which can not only support better fuel efficiency, but also faster acceleration. The shortcoming to these transmissions is that they can be very heavy and complex.
In addition, German automakers make use of the auto start-stop feature in many of their vehicles, and are tied with Toyota in terms of hybrid adoption.
American & Other Automakers
Technology profile of Ford and GM is somewhat similar to the Germans, using turbocharging and direct injection combined with 7+ gear transmissions.
GM uses turbocharging less often, but stands out with its high usage of cylinder deactivation technology, at 54% of models. This feature is referred to by GM as Active Fuel Management (AFM), it works by shutting down half of the engine’s cylinders during light driving.
GM is acknowledged for its small-block V8 engines, which can be found in many of the company’s models. Given the high cylinder count of a V8, AFM is a clever trick for improving fuel efficiency.
Stellantis, which is a merger between Italian-American Fiat Chrysler and French Peugeot, has not widely adopted many technologies except for the 7+ gear transmission.
Last on the list is Tesla, which does not use any of the above mentioned technologies due to it being a pure electric automaker.
Going The Way of the Dinosaur
The technologies presented in this infographic have helped to bring the average mpg of a new car to record highs in recent years.
Most of these innovations would become obsolete as automakers slowly phase out gasoline engines. In 2021, six most important automakers which includes Ford, Mercedes-Benz, and GM assured to phase out the sale of new gasoline and diesel-powered cars by 2040.
Other automakers such as Porsche believe that the combustion engine still has a future, pointing to synthetic fuels as a means of significantly reducing CO2 emissions.
Infographic by: visualcapitalist