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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Fiat's twin cylinder MultiAir engine coming soon...

The twin cylinder SGE (Small Gas Engine) Fiat has been working on will finally make its debut at the Geneva International Motor Show, March 4-14th. Originally the engine was to make its debut in the new Topolino super mini Fiat has been working on over the last year and a half, however, that debut has been postponed this year due to poor economic projections in Europe for 2010.

Spy shots of the new Fiat Topolino

The 900cc parallel twin cylinder SGE will be christened "TwinAir" because of its use of MultiAir technology and will be first installed this summer in the Fiat 500.The TwinAir will be the smallest displacement gasoline engine available in Europe, however, it is important to note that it is very powerful for its size. The initial application will be in turbocharged 85hp form with turbocharged 105hp and normally aspirated 65hp versions to follow.

When and if we in the US will get the TwinAir engine is yet to be seen, however we will see this engine downsizing technology applied to Chrysler products. Fiat's concept is combining the MultiAir technology with a turbocharger will give the same power as a larger engine.

This is not a new concept, but the big advantage Fiat has is, now with MultiAir, the engine can be tuned to maximize low end torque for increased drivability. The goal here is to have a small engine behave like a big engine, with no sacrifice in drivability.

Click picture to enlarge

An example is the twin cylinder 900cc SGE, in turbocharged form, has the same power as the 1.4L 16V engine currently fitted in the Fiat 500.

For Chrysler, we'll see the new Pentastar V6 engines with MultiAir combined with single and twin turbochargers replace some of the large V8 engines.

Click picture to enlarge

The TwinAir combined electric Hybrid has also been developed. It is a very interesting twist on the normal hybrid car technology. The Fiat hybrid system is developed specifically for small vehicles unlike most current systems, with their bulky batteries. which are more suited for bigger vehicles.

For more information on the SGE TwinAir and Fiat hybrid click here.
Photos and slides courtesy of Fiat Group Press
Video with thanks to Mickred video channel


Daniël said...

This engine should definately cross the atlantic. No doubt a 0.9L engine will be a bit too shocking for some people, but the best way to do away with the displacement myth is to make it look ridiculous, which is exactly what this engine does. Even if many people will choose the 1.4, you need this engine to re-educate your customer.

Chris said...

Agreed, The proof is in the horsepower and torque.

The two expressions "no replacement for displacement" and "bigger is better" have, IMHO, helped bring about the demise of the American car.

Catering to these antiquated and misguided statements over the past 40 years or so have allowed our auto industry to stagnate and have kept many new designs and engine features from being developed until (too?) late.

Keeping alive the notion that a bigger car is better for no reason other than length or an 5.7L engine is better than a 2.0L just because of size, makes it easy, I guess, for the non automotive savvy person.

The idea is: Just make a big huge car, put fake wood trim inside (and outside!) stuff a huge engine under the hood (with barely a 150hp) and it must be good, just make sure you call it something catchy.

Overhead cams, monocoque chassis, independent rear suspension, etc, hey, that costs too much. Keep it simple, they'll never notice and make sure you achieve maximum profit. Chince out on everything mechanical, no one will notice as long as you've got good A/C and power windows.

Well those ideas did cost something, it cost them market share and there's a scramble to catch up now that the latest generation of consumers see what car makers from other countries offer.

The winning car company here in our domestic market will be the one that embraces the newest technology. For my money, I think Chrysler has a good shot now that they've hooked up with Fiat.

Now I know there are still a lot of misguided and uninformed people out there lamenting the demise of the big (wasteful) American car with the huge (sloppy ) low output V8, you can hear them everyday on the TV and radio, but it seems they aren't the ones buying cars.

The people with open minds will eventually come around to modern ideas. Fiat and Chrysler just have to do a good job in communicating the advantages of this technology.

OK, I'll get off my soap box now! Thanks for the comment.

Daniël said...

Something is puzzling my mind for a while:

We can laugh at the obvious bad decisions, but the American focus on big cars was a reaction to competition from the far east. The Japanese originally didn't build SUV's with V8 engines. The American car industry was simply focussing on cars there was less competition for. That combined with cheap oil, low taxes on fuel killed the industry when these premises of the business model were no longer true.

Now comes the question: The european car industry was under threat from the far east too. It was serious, the Japanese made very good cars, and had cheap labour and workers that didn't mind to work long days. Why didn't the european car industry switch to car designs that had less competition, just like in the U.S.?

I don't have a full answer for it, I don't think there is a full answer. There is one area I am looking at for a possible answer, and that is the production process. It starts to be boring, but I end up at FIAT again for a critical innovation. Take a look at this commercial:


So a car factory. What's so interresting about it? For that you need to know the year this commercial was broadcast, and that was the year 1979. The FIAT Ritmo/Strada was the first car that was almost fully built using robots. People were aware of the importance of this breakthrough, and this commercial was made to celebrate it. It marked the end of the assembly belts pioneered by Henry Ford and the beginning of modern robotized production.

So rather than change its product, Europe was eliminating the labour costs from the production costs. Of course, the American industry switched to robotics too. So did the Japanese. Still, many robot manufacturers for the car industry come from Europe, KUKA is German, Reis is German, and Comau is part of Fiat and thus Italian.

Could this be why we still make small cars in Europe?

Chris said...

That's an interesting point and it would be fascinating to be in the room where product planning discussions happen to find out the whys and where fors.

As far as Europe goes, I don't have first hand knowledge of that market, but of course, it won't stop me from giving my opinion;)

I believe European manufacturers were responding to what consumers wanted just as in America the companies responded to the consumers desire for big cars.

Now, the US manufacturers created the big car status symbol beginning in the 1950's, but I have to admit, there is a basis for big car demand in the US. We tend to do a lot of commuting, for example, where I live, 500 to 1,000 miles per week is normal. Commuting in the typical small US car is usually not a great way to spend 2-4 hours a day (I used a VW GTI).

Also, besides responding to consumer desires, big cars mean big profits. You can also add your theory in there, too.

As far as the European car makers, could it be they didn't consider the Asian companies a worthy competitor?

Henry said...

I am a little puzzled! If the Multi-Air engines have such controllable torque curves why are 6 speed gearboxes needed? If the torque is available over a large range of engine speed then surely a 3 or 4 speed transmission should suffice for most driving situations?

Henry B

tahrey said...

Henry: Because the torque output at the crank is necessarily limited, you still need high rpm x high torque to get high power, and having an engine that buzzes away under the bonnet at highway speed is both annoying and uneconomical. Six is probably a bit excessive, but if they can make it both fit the car, be reliable, produce it affordably and balance the ratios well, why not? It fits neatly into a regular H-gate, gives you four close gears for zapping around the city and back-country, a maximum speed 5th, and a long overdrive 6th for cruising.

Having a wide, flexible torque range is not the same as somehow, magically, producing 80+hp across 2000 thru 5500rpm (about what you'd need to achieve good performance up to 110+mph with a 3-speed without having trouble starting on a hill, or being bang-on with every single gearshift) from a small, economical motor and having the car still score highly on NVH tests.

What it does mean, with the 6 speed and a good engine, is you can choose to either keep it absolutely on the boil all the way from a standstill up to it's maximum speed, or you can amble around the city never needing to exceed 2000rpm, or over 3000 on the freeway, because the deep torque means there's still plenty of usable *power* (albeit a half or third of the absolute peak) without needing to work it hard. Rather than the 6-speed being a requirement just to keep the engine in any kind of usable powerband, as it is with a hard-tuned superbike or a racing car with a huge turbo and dyno curves with fall-offs like cliff faces.

tahrey said...

ANYWAY, I'm quite amused by how they consider the 875cc engine as "radical downsizing". It's less than 10 years since Fiat last offered a mainstream 899/903cc passenger car (Seiscento), approx 15 since the 747cc disappeared (Panda 750, and its Spanish 843cc clone), and maybe 20 since they sacked off the 600-700cc range (the old 126). It's only radical in comparison to very recent size-ballooning in city car engines.

However, might they be referencing it as a future option for larger cars? It's been a much longer time since anything larger than a supermini had a sub-1 litre engine (and the 903cc, 45hp Uno was the most recent of THOSE, if we ignore the short lived 999cc engines in the old VW Polo & Lupo), but the current TwinAir can throw out more than TWICE the power AND torque per litre than some perfectly good 1990s family car engines with high teen-hundred cc's, and a better power curve too. Even as it stands, it would be a suitable transplant unit. The 100+ HP high tune version could fit in the bay of my current, fairly swift medium family car (good for 5 people on a day trip, or 3-4 plus camping gear without using a roof rack or trailer) and completely fool the average driver - and, maybe in a 3-cylinder, 1.3L, 150hp, near-200lbft guise, would even be perfectly sound for bringing old classic 50s~70s gas guzzlers back into the realm of everyday usability without having to be rolling roadblocks (though to be honest, the multijet may be a better idea for them). Take the 2-pot (or even a 2/3 cyl JTD variant) and integrate it into a full-hybrid system (partway between Volt and Prius) and you'll have yourself one heck of a parsimonious vehicle with no performance issues whatsoever.

Bob Buckler said...

Please bring the twin air turbo engine to the US. I currently drive a 98 hp hybrid, and given your amazing technology and inherent durability, I would much prefer it to the more complex hybrid. I would say, however, if Fiat decides to market a mild hybrid version of this same engine, I would be on the top of the list of potential buyers. Having owned three hybrids to date, I can't go back to less than 40-50 mpg.