“There is only so much [fuel economy] we are going to get out of the engine,” notes Mann. “If you want to get a certain amount of horsepower out, you are still going to have to put a certain amount of fuel in. We are already running two turbochargers. We already have high cylinder injection pressure. It is going to have to come in some other ways than just the engine.”
Some other ways to improve internal combustion efficiency include removal of parasitic loads by driving accessories like steering pumps and air conditioners electrically. Then you can gain efficiency through the incorporation of hybrid electrical systems to capture wasted energy and use it to assist the internal combustion engine.
Finally, you can use alternative fuels. Ethanol in blends up to 10% have proven effective, but there are a surprising number of fleets that are converting to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and Liquefied Propane Gas (LPG). This trend has been driven by the consumer, so we all need to keep a close eye on this one.
So the next time you go to spec an engine or purchase a new machine, it will not be business as usual. You will have to consider the new options and make decisions that make the most sense for your bottom line. Technology can often increase fuel economy and performance, but you also need to factor in the purchase price and planned utilization to ensure it actually makes financial sense.