By Andrew Clark
Published: Friday, November 23, 2018
With technology hurtling forward faster than ever, the race to dominate the vehicle market is being driven by power, says RAA Technical Advisory Service expert Andrew Clark.
Petrol engines have come a long way in recent years, with some improvements challenging what was once the diesel engine’s forte.
The inclusion of turbocharging and clever fuel injection systems means new four-cylinder engines are producing the same or more power than many 6-cylinder and V8 engines from days gone by.
Manufacturers are still finding ways to get more from every last drop of unleaded, so don’t underestimate petrol power.
If you want to look to the future though, check out Adelaide’s taxi fleet – you’ll notice they’re all Prius or Camry hybrids.
Hybrids really come into their own when they’re used in the city and suburbs, where the electric propulsion is used more often.
Some hybrids now have a ‘full electric’ mode, so for a limited time the only source of propulsion will be provided by the electric motor, not the petrol one.
This is perfect for those slow congested traffic hauls through the city, and reduced speed limits in metro areas. Plus, they help reduce emissions.
On the open road at higher cruising speeds, the electric motor generally struggles to keep the car moving, so the petrol engine will take over.
But imagine 80% of vehicles all sitting silently at an intersection waiting for the lights to change – that’s got to be good for the environment!
If you’ve really got your heart set on a diesel car, you’ll need to ask yourself some questions about how it’ll be used.
There’s no doubt ‘dirty diesel’ has cleaned up its act over the years, but diesel engines are still at their best when they’re working hard.
It’s why diesel engines are always found in 4WDs, utes, buses and trucks.
Some motorists might find the fuel efficiency and concept of a diesel attractive for day-to-day use, but new emission control equipment like diesel particulate filters (DPF) can become blocked if you’re only making short or infrequent trips.
This can mean extra servicing, or damage to the DPF.