We spoke with the Service Manager at Thompson Hyundai in Baltimore, MD, and we were provided with a few ways engines have evolved through the years:

Increased efficiency

In today's automotive worldwide have a lot of technologies that make engines efficient. For example, fuel injectionmixes the fuel and the air just before they are sucked into the cylinder. This can improve engine efficiency by 11% because the fuel burns more efficiently. Nissan is likes turbochargers because they use the exhaust gas flow to compress the air used the combustion cycle. This compressed air leads to super-efficient combustion. Variable-valve timing lets an engine use only the fuel it needs, increasing efficiency.

Enhanced Power

People are more concerned with gas mileage now than ever before, but they are also more concerned with engine power. Modern cars are heavier than before and they're carrying heavier loads at faster speeds. Through design and manufacturing innovations, today's engines are more powerful than prior ones. For example, in 1983, the Chevy Malibu had a 3.8-liter V-6 engine that manufactured 110 horsepower. 20 years later, the 3.6-liter V-6 in the Malibu creates 252 horsepower.

Variable-valve timing (VVT) is another technology that lets modern engines work smarter. With VVT the valve openings are optimized for the load the engine is under. This helps the engine utilize less gas and work smarter.

Some of Today's Engines Have Companions

Modern engines have technology that helps use less fuel while creating more power than older engines, but they have something older engines just did not have: companions. In hybrid vehicles, today's engines receive help from electric motors powered by battery packs.

Today's engines are not only serious technological items, they're partnered with other high-tech parts that help them do their jobs. A four-or five speed transmission was cutting-edge, but today's engines partner with transmissions with seven and eight speeds. The more speeds a transmission has, the better it is able to mesh with engine power, making the whole drivetrain run more efficiently. Or, if eight speeds are not enough, modern engines are partnered with Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVTs), which have infinite number of gear ratios. This means they transmit the engine's power to the wheels as efficiently as possible.

In hybrid vehicles, modern engines get help from electric motors powered by battery packs. While the electric motor may power the vehicle at slow speeds, or run accessories when the vehicle is stopped, it may also kick in to generate extra power when required. Having a back-up electric motor means that the car's engine can be smaller and less powerful, which conserves fuel. In some cases, though, car companies combine electric motors with big, powerful engines for unbelievable performance.

Compared to other technologies, it seems that car engines have only changed a bit over the years. The same principle still applies, though: the air and fuel are combusted to create the car's rotational force. But while the same basic principles apply, today's car engines have evolved to meet the power and efficiency needs of today's drivers

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