Technology transfer is speeding up the development of fuel-saving, low-emission models.
China suppliers of engines and relevant parts are coming up with better performing and environment-friendly products. Many are leveraging joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions to access the necessary technologies, strengthening their R&D and manufacturing capability in the process.
Consequently, engines employing direct injection, variable valve timing and turbochargers are no longer exclusively designed for high-end vehicles. A number of models suited to midrange cars are now offered.
Among the fuel-saving and emissions-control systems that have become more available are common rail diesel engines. Units from domestic makers are compliant with Euro III or IV, and are 30 percent more energy-efficient than conventional assemblies.
Beijing Automobile Works, which acquired the rights to produce several Saab cars in 2009, has developed 2 and 2.3L engines with electronic fuel-injection systems and turbochargers. The models are designed to be as fuel-efficient as Saab units and 20 percent more powerful.
In the parts sector, suppliers are pouring in resources to support domestic production and maintenance of “green” engines. Sikeco Auto Parts Co. Ltd, for example, is working with research institutions and local colleges to roll out automotive sensors that will suit new vehicle makes and models. The company allocates about 10 percent of sales for R&D each year.
Chinahanji Power Co. Ltd has come up with fuel injection pumps that comply with Euro IV specifications. The mechanisms are in the final stages of testing and will be released in coming months.
At Shanghai Auzone Auto Parts Mfg Co. Ltd, product development efforts have yielded electronic and semi-electronic throttle bodies that meet Euro III limits. A number of the models are patented.
Jesa Wuxi Co. Ltd, meanwhile, is using AISI 52100 steel to produce automotive bearings that will help improve torque, lower noise and extend service life. A China-Switzerland joint venture, the company adopts Swiss technologies and management systems. It supplies BMW’s factory in China.
Car and motorcycle engines can be sourced from about 100 suppliers in China. Makers either have shares held by vehicle makers or are OE suppliers. Factories can be found in Beijing, Shanghai and the provinces of Guangdong, Jilin, Liaoning, Anhui, Sichuan and Guangxi.
The industry’s annual output for cars exceeds 10 million sets, one-third of which are shipped abroad. Versions for passenger vehicles are popular, with gasoline-powered units constituting the bulk of turnout.
Priced at least $ 1,500 per set, models in the category are equipped with four to eight cylinders. These have displacements of up to 5L, while output power can surpass 210kW. Designs for export typically adhere to Euro emission standards.
Diesel engines for commercial vehicles are offered between $ 2,300 and $ 45,000. Similarly fitted with four to eight cylinders, units have an output rating of up to 450kW, while displacement levels reach 15L.
For motorcycle engines, the annual output is about 15 million sets, 20 percent of which are sent overseas. The majority of these run on gasoline, with displacements ranging from 50 to 250mL. Versions with specifications below 50mL and those exceeding 1L are available as well.
Priced at least $ 75 per set, models are fitted with one cylinder and are usually Euro I or II-compliant. The output power ranges from 3 to 20kW
Parts for gasoline and diesel engines are available from approximately 500 companies. Makers congregate in Shandong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui and Guangxi provinces.
Models are fabricated from iron, steel and aluminum via casting, stamping and machining. For the last process, CNC equipment from the US, Germany and Italy are employed.
Prices depend on the materials and surface treatment used. International certification is also a key differentiator, with upscale models often manufactured according to ISO 9001 and TS 16949, and VDA 6.1 guidelines.
Pistons are among the top exports in this category. Designs come in aluminum or with cast iron parts.
Pieces below $ 3 have one to three ring grooves and tin plating. Versions reaching $ 12 have surfaces coated with phosphate, while colloidal graphite is applied to the skirt.
Between $ 13 and $ 45, releases employ austenitic cast iron ring groove rims, which can double or triple service life. In addition, some have pin holes lined with wear-resistant copper.
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