By on January 26, 2010

We’ve spilled a few pixels on these pages over Hyundai’s dedication to direct injection (DI) technology, even going as far as to crown Hyundai the “new Honda” of motor technology. But DI technology isn’t without its downsides, and Hyundai tells Automotive News [sub] that the technology isn’t likely to appear on future engines with less than two liters of displacement.

Specifically, a 1.6 liter engine, destined for Hyundai’s future compacts like the Accent likely won’t see direct injection, as Hyundai’s North American powertrain director tells AN [sub] “it gets more difficult when you have four valves, the injector and the plug all in a very small-sized bore,” like the 1.6 liter engine under development. But, he adds, “there is still more room to get more fuel efficiency” out of small-capacity engines without DI.

This is an interesting development in that Chrysler is heavily relying on downsized, direct-injected and turbocharged engines from Fiat, including a 1.4 liter engine that will first see action in the US under the hood of the Fiat 500. Though the 500 won’t compete with any Hyundai models, future mass-market B- and C-segment Chrysler offerings are expected to utilize sub-two liter DI engines, meaning they’ll face a challenge in competing with Hyundai’s cheaper, non-DI powerplants.

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35 Comments on “Hyundai: Direct Injection Has Its Limits...”

  • avatar
    Brian E

    Note to Hyundai: It’s OK to stick the 2.4L GDI engine in the new Accent and Elantra. I won’t complain.

  • avatar

    Peugeot sells their 1.6 litre turbo engine with 150 HP and direct injection, as well as their 1.6 litre 175 HP turbo in several models including one of the most sold cars in Europe, the Peugeot 207. The 175 HP engine is also used in the MINI COOPER S…so why do they get it done since almost 4 years and Hyundai doesn’t?

    Maybe…well, maybe, it’s because BMW developped these engines and still just knows how to do it a little better than our friends in the far east…

    • 0 avatar

      Er… they’ve had direct injection diesels since the 1950s.

      IMO direct injection seems a bit pointless.
      It adds a great deal of extra expense while only getting about 10% more power at the best.

      The ‘too small’ argument sounds like a canard – the reason why Hyundai won’t use it on small cars is cos its too expensive.

    • 0 avatar
      Galne Gunnar

      Yes, and what about Volkwagens 1.6 FSI, 1.4 TSI and 1.2 TSI?

  • avatar

    I believe BMW has had packaging issues of the same sort… not being able, if I recall correctly, to package the Valvetronic stuff and the DI stuff in the N54…

    • 0 avatar

      That’s what they said, but sure enough the N55 has valvetronic (and performance similar to the N54, but time will tell as the N54 is underrated)

      I’m actually glad my N54 doesn’t have valvetronic. It’s a complication that doesn’t really get you anything. It doesn’t matter if you throttle the air with a throttle plate, or a barely open valve: the pressure loss must be the same. If you could throttle by altering duration rather than lift, you might have something. Valvetronic doesn’t do that.

  • avatar

    10 year warranties on cars with miniscule markups likely have a way of keeping you on the conservative side…..

    • 0 avatar

      I imagine it also forces you to make sure you build ’em right so they don’t eat up your small margins in the service department.

    • 0 avatar

      I would like know whether Hyundai is self-insuring its warranties (via accounting set asides) or if they’ve taken some insurance with an outside party. It would speak to how confident Hyundai is in its engineering and build quality.

  • avatar

    The Fiat FIRE Engine is not a Direct Injection Engine. It is Multi-Air and VVT.

    Based on their 5 year plan presentation for engines, DI doesn’t show up until 1.8L’s.

    I’m sure the makers of Ferrari, Maserati and Alfa’s have this figured out. After-all, MultiAir Technology did come from their Ferrari F1 team.
    Also, they will have variants of the engines with and without DI, Turbos and MultiAir. I’m sure they will compete.

  • avatar

    While any engine progress is good news, the 3.8 in the Genesis sedan and coupe would probably benefit from the DI conversion the most.

  • avatar

    I’ve got a direct injected 1.6 in my Audi A2. VW has now replaced that engine with a 1.4l turbocharged DI engine, I believe. This is probably a cost related choice where small cars in the US get the shaft and there is no market for sophistication there.

  • avatar

    A similar release was made by Nissan last year, but they made the point that it was complexity leading to cost that limits the use of DI. Nissan has plans to go down a route with dual injectors (2 per cylinder) for small engines.

  • avatar

    Well it makes sense for the most advanced technology to take time to filter down to the lowest cost models. Remember when Cadillac really was “Standard of the World” and they were GM’s technology testbed?

  • avatar

    With the size limitations of DI, I wonder if it would just make more sense to invest in HCCI. I believe the packaging is easier for smaller engines. I know that no one is using it today in their engines, but I think DI will be short lived and HCCI becoming the standard.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      The HCCI implementations that I’ve heard of – and this is all still laboratory and test-bed work at the moment – require DI as an enabling technology. GM’s gasoline-engine-based HCCI system uses the Ecotec direct-injection engine; VW’s diesel-engine-based CCS system is based on a TDI diesel. The Lotus Omnivore engine is also DI.

      HCCI is extremely difficult to make work in a sufficiently robust manner in the real world over a range of fuel quality, temperature, RPM, and load that is wide enough to be useful.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree, it is still in labs and not ready for prime time yet. And yes, HCCI does require DI, but not spark plug. I left that part out. Which will give you a bit more room for the valves.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      Still can’t get away from it. The gasoline-engine-based version of HCCI requires spark plugs for use in the speed/load regimes for which HCCI operation is not possible. The diesel-engine-based version of HCCI doesn’t need spark plugs, but does need glow plugs for cold starting.

      Still, a smart 800cc diesel has an injector and a glow plug in each cylinder, although I’m pretty sure that one is only two valves per cylinder, and a VW TDI 1.6 has an injector and a glow plug and four valves per cylinder.

      Most of the gasoline-direct-injection engines have the injector at the side of the combustion chamber between the two intake valves and the edge of the cylinder, pointing out to the side. It’s not trying to share space with the spark plug. Frankly I’m not buying the explanation of not enough space in the cylinder, although I can certainly buy the explanation that they’ve got other ways to improve efficiency. Direct-injection in a gasoline engine only makes sense as a big efficiency-improver if you can use lean-burn mode, but the NOx emission standards don’t allow that unless you spend the big coin on a diesel-style lean de-NOx catalyst …

  • avatar
    Greg Locock

    If you are serious about economy then 4 valves seems like 1 or 2 too many, and 4 cylinders seems like 1 or 2 too many.

    So while they’d struggle to maintain naturally aspirated specific power outputs where they are, there is no reason in principle why a nice little 1100 cc 3 cylinder 3 valve couldn’t be DI. Actually I prefer boxers but they are a bit of a tearup packaging wise.

  • avatar

    I wonder what the smallest diesel size is given that it’s perfect for the DI treatment. It’s one reason VW has been on the forefront with their small displacement gassers because of their TDI work.

  • avatar

    Seriously, even though everyone here is part of the B and B, how many of you really know the difference between all these types of fuel injections? C’mon. Be honest.

    • 0 avatar
      johnny ro

      DI is not esoteric.

      Although Kevin Cameron left out in-cylinder evaporative cooling enabling increased compression ratios in his article in Cycle World this month. Odd of him to not mention it.

    • 0 avatar

      As an engineer who started out with gasoline and then moved to diesel engines, the answer is yes I understand the difference between the injection system.

      Based on the comments of the B&B I’d suggest that the majority have at least a conceptual understanding of engine & vehicle technology

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Fiat’s 1.4l design has a very unique valve actuation system. It employs four valves per cylinder, but only one camshaft. The second bank of valves is connected to the camshaft through a controllable follower such that the secondary valves can be left closed, used normally, or only open for a part of the cycle. It is a fascinating piece of engineering work and I’m sure it is well protected by patents. In many ways Multiair reminds me of the old progressive four barrel carburetors which only opened the second pair of throttle plates when needed.

    Have a look:

    In a final bit of irony, the US production site for Fiat’s 1.4l Multiair engine is the GEMA plant in Michigan. GEMA stood for Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance, the engine design and manufacturing joint venture between Hyundai, Chrysler and Mitsubishi. Hyundai and Mitsubishi backed away from the venture over these past few years and left GEMA all to Chrysler, er, Fiatsler.

    As to Hyundai’s blatant PR, really? “But, he adds, ‘there is still more room to get more fuel efficiency’ out of small-capacity engines without DI.” Is Hyundai posturing as if they know something about making small engines more efficient that none of their many competitors has thought of? There are a lot of very talented engineers and scientists around the globe sweating the question of how to get the most efficiency out of an automotive engine.

  • avatar

    the problem as i see it is that DI is supposed to be some kind of evolution of EFI to the next level

    and it promises everything… more power, more torque, lower emissions AND lower fuel consumption

    the price to pay is higher expense everywhere

    we also don’t know how this fares in the long term

    i expect that for cheap cars, DI failure may write off the car say 5-10 yrs dowbn the track

  • avatar

    and yet we are still uncertain about the future costs of DI

    i’ve worked with DI diesels and the price of pumps, injectors is quite high however you cannot compare costs of these truck parts to automobiles.

    if the knowledge from DI diesels transfers to petrol DI engines how come there is so much FUD?

  • avatar

    Ford is saying something similar. I read a story elsewhere where the manager in charge of the 2011 Mustang’s new, 305-bhp V6 and 412-bhp V8 talked about why the new engines did not have DI. He talked about how DI does improve knock control, but that to reach the power and mpg targets the engineers focused on breathing and VCT technology.

    Doesn’t mean Ford can’t add DI in the future, but they can do without the extra cost at the moment.

  • avatar

    In a sense ALL diesels are direct injection. In fact they have to be, as the diesel ignition process is started (and timed) by the fuel getting exposed to the high temperature compressed air in the combustion chamber.
    The “indirect” diesels actually have a “pre-combustion” chamber where the fuel is injected but this chamber is at the same pressure as the main combustion chamber above the piston head. Quite different from the usual indirect gasoline injection where the fuel is injected into the (low pressure) intake port.
    Mercedes figured out that indirect gas injection was almost as good as(and a lot simpler/cheaper than) direct gas injection back in the ’50s so it is no surprise that Hyundai comes to the same conclusion half a century later.
    Per GM, DI is good for a 3% gain in bsfc so (technology fan boys aside) it is not really that big a deal for the end user.

    • 0 avatar

      A 3% gain in fuel economy is good. But better is the fact that now you can use a smaller motor, get a decent output from it and really increase fuel economy because you are using a smaller engine. It will be interesting to see how this works with engines that were originally designed with DI instead of having it added like the current engines on the marketplace.

  • avatar

    Hmm… I thought that DI was “All That” – but it seems like the tech and its added cost/complexity doesn’t add a lot to a spark-ignited engine. I suppose that its real value is to the automakers’ fleet CAFE average – DI could push it over the top, and it’s probably cheaper than more aluminum and high-strength steel in some applications.

  • avatar

    New, high pressure direct injection diesels are available in very small sizes. Hyundai has it on the Accent outside of America. The issue in packaging is of how to put the injector in with the spark plug and the ubiquitous four valves (which maximize airflow and efficiency within the head).

    The problem is, as one poster mentioned, the insanely high costs of such systems, both to build and maintain. And even the most robust of these will start to see problems past the 100,000 mile mark. And replacing these piezo-injectors isn’t cheap. They’re typically around five hundred dollars or more each for diesel units… and you have four of them on a typical compact. The higher pressures mean shorter service life for each injector versus a low-pressure system. Which is why Nissan is looking at a dual-injector system, which I think is brilliant. the benefits of direct injection without the insanely high component prices.

    These systems, though, are indispensable on a modern diesel that needs to meet emissions requirements. They’re not indispensable on a non-turbocharged (on turbocharged engines, their main benefit is to help it run a whole lot leaner at low-rpms…) gasoline engine… and Hyundai is quite rightly identifying them as an un-needed expense on small cars.

    Unless, of course, you downsize to two or three cylinders for the same displacement (say two cylinders for engines up to 1000cc, three for engines up to 1600cc). Give up a little refinement to give yourself more space in the head for packaging equipment. Would make the engines cheaper overall. Of course, many manufacturers are going this route. There are even plans for three-pot mills in the 3-series and the C-Class.

    As an added bonus, three-pots sound much better than four-pots. ;)

  • avatar


    THIS is where I get amazed at them at. They actually put the MONY into engine technology, doing something few (besides GM and those stupid HOWIE ads) are.. and excelling at.

    These are the motors I wish was in the Accord.. to give it better economy, then again I wish Accord was smaller also.

    For this..

    Finally gettin out in front of the others.. on something important.

    If theyd start MB-like CROWING about their engine technology and body strength and show off how hard they worked to put these cars together..

    AND DON’T MENTION THAT DAMN BAIT AND SWITCH WARRANTY… people might actually give them some… credibility. They should start crowing about their designer (that they cribbed from Audi). Then Id be happier about them as a company.. not saying Id buy..

    But this motor.. DOES make me happy.

    Is that wrong?

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