Mercedes-Benz technical chiefs have revealed an exciting mixture of technologies aimed at meeting short and long-term European CO2 legislation.
More efficient engines, electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids and fuel cells all form part of Mercedes’ development strategy over the next 10 years.
In engine development, the focus is on improved efficiency and performance. Downsizing engine capacity combats friction and the pumping losses caused by the effort of drawing air into the engine. The new V8 engine of the Mercedes-AMG GT and C63 is a classic example of this approach.
The capacity has been reduced from 6.3-litres to 4.0-litres by adding twin-turbocharging to maintain or increase power. Friction-reducing 'Nanoslide' technology has been carried over in the cylinder bores allowing pistons to slide with less resistance. The result is an efficiency improvement of 30 per cent compared to its naturally aspirated predecessor.
Turbocharging can generate high torque at low engine speeds on both petrol and diesel engines, so downspeeding is also on the agenda at Mercedes. If the engine turns more slowly, friction is reduced and so are heat, wear and CO2 emissions. That’s one of the reasons, despite the downsizing regime, Mercedes still favours four-cylinders over three. Engineers argue that a slower-turning four-cylinder gives the same frictional benefits as a three-pot, but is smoother.
“The name of the game is to combine driving fun with efficiency,” says Thomas Weber, group board member responsible for research and car development at Mercedes.
The research chief also believes there’s a crossover between F1 and passenger cars, in terms of learning – if not actual components.