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article imageThe automotive trifecta: Three that pay off big

By Kyle Busch     May 19, 2012 in Technology
This article reports on the automotive performance and efficiency provided the trifecta of turbocharging, direct fuel injection and variable valve timing.
In horse racing to hit the trifecta you need to pick three horses and have their exact order of finish 1, 2, 3 happen. Why subject your wages to such tough odds? Answer – you usually win some big money!
And what happens when automakers use the trifecta? Answer – good automotive results.
And why have I mixed horse racing and automotive? Well, without horses (before the automobile) we would have been walking. Additionally, the power output of automotive engines is stated in horsepower, right?
What does an automotive trifecta include? By the way, Volkswagen calls the three TSI and Ford calls it Ecoboost. The automotive trifecta combines turbocharging, direct fuel injection and variable valve timing. And when you put them all together, they really bring additional horses out of an engine. In other words, they equal maximum engine performance and efficiency. The three are used on small engines such as a 1.0-liter three-cylinder or on large engines like a 6.6-liter V12.
Unlike supercharging that is driven off the engine, turbocharging is driven off the exhaust gas (the exhaust flow spins the turbo that acts as a fan to force addition air into the engine’s cylinders). Variable 4-valves per cylinder helps to get the air into and the exhaust out of the engine’s cylinders. And direct fuel injection involves a very fine high pressure spray (sometimes several sprays) directly into each cylinder. The result is a big payoff in terms of more horse power, better fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions.
The three allow smaller displacement engines with fewer cylinders to drive as if a vehicle
were equipped with a larger engine. Smaller engines are lighter and thus help a vehicle to handle and brake better. In most instances, the suspension and brake components can then be make lighter. Thus, there is a secondary gain in fuel efficiency.
In horse racing going for the trifecta can be risky, however, in the automotive realm it is pretty much a risk free proposition. It is something that more and more automakers are placing their bets on and winning in a big way!
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