Jason Cannon of CCJ has a fantastic article posted today about the EPA’s next phase of regulations. He does an amazing job of highlighting some new technology, some challenges engineers face after getting a few easy wins, etc. There is a ton of great info in this article.
One of the things he highlighted was that the EPA, “…doesn’t mandate a specific new engine technology, and engine OEMs are free to take a variety of paths and methods to meet the efficiency gain goal…”
This is not a little thing. Back in 1990 the California Air Resources Board (CARB) mandated that car manufactures sell a certain percentage of electric vehicles. The problem was, no one wanted to buy electric vehicles. Eventually CARB altered its mandate to emissions standards rather than consumers’ actions. This allowed engineers to figure out a way to solve the problem (the problem being, “How do we move a roughly 2 ton vehicle at pace the average consumer will deem sufficient with little to no emissions all while keeping the cost of said vehicle at a price-point consumers will agree to pay?”).
Today, our industry faces similar challenges (“How do we find additional efficiency gains at cost-effective prices?”). But these challenges come with a twist; the low-hanging fruit has all been picked. The law of diminishing returns applies. Engineers will have to work a lot harder to make similar gains. It will be interesting to see how the OEMs address the issue.
Thankfully, as Cannon noted, the EPA isn’t mandating specific results just specific emission and fuel efficiency standards.
Thanks for reading.