The eight largest Japanese car manufacturers – Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Suzuki, Mazda, Daihatsu, Subaru and Mitsubishi – have set up a collaborative organisation, Research Association of Automotive Internal Combustion Engines (AICE), with an aim of improving the fuel efficiency of their petrol and diesel internal combustion engines by 30% by the year 2020.
Despite these manufacturers pumping a lot of resources into the development of electric and alternative fuel powertrains, the creation of AICE is an admission that traditionally-powered cars will remain in widespread use for a lot longer, particularly in developing markets.
The new task force will be given a budget of 1 billion yen (RM31.5mil), half of which is provided by the Japanese government, the rest chipped in by the manufacturers. Keji Ohtsu, managing director of Honda R&D, will become the president. Member companies will together conduct basic research on more efficient engines to meet tightening fuel economy and emissions standards while sharing costs among each other.
The ultimate goal, said organisers, is to achieve world-leading advancements in combustion engine efficiency in 10 years, with a thermal efficiency target of 50%. Currently, the best figure for a petrol engine is 39%; a diesel engine 42%.
AICE will be working to achieve more complete combustion cycles and better ignition in petrol engines without increasing knock. Diesel engine research, on the other hand, will focus on reducing particulate matter and nitrogen oxide emissions, partly through better particulate filters and exhaust gas recirculation systems.
It is hoped that the fruits of this partnership will eventually make it to production vehicles, though no timeline has been set.